A 12-year-old Willisville girl, Summer Hasselbrock, has received two free buffets per week for a year at Pistol City Restaurant and Saloon - along with other gifts from area businesses - after being the victim of a theft at the Steeleville 4th of July Celebration parade.
"It's a bit overwhelming," Hasselbrock said during a gift presentation at Pistol City on Thursday. "I didn't think this was going to happen."
In a series of Facebook posts on his business's page, Pistol City general manager Kyle Hinnerichs stated Summer, whose last name wasn't revealed at the time, had one of the gift cards Pistol City throws out at the annual parade stolen out of her hands by an older woman.
"We feel this is totally unacceptable, and just horrible in every way," Hinnerichs wrote. "Mean people suck."
The gift cards are preloaded with $1, $2, $5 and $50 amounts. The denomination of the cards is not listed, meaning those who receive them have to come to Pistol City in Coulterville to redeem them.
Hinnerichs originally offered Summer a $10 gift card to replace the card that was stolen from her, but changed his mind after the theft and his resulting gesture attracted significant attention on social media.
"I was thinking last night that it doesn't really seem fair to send her a $10 gift card," Hinnerichs wrote in a July 6 post. "After all, the majority of the cards are $1, $2, or $5.
"Sure, 5 of them are worth $50, but there's none of them that are worth $10. So why send her a $10 card? That's dumb."
After reaching out to other local business owners, Hinnerichs offered Summer and her family not only the free buffets from Pistol City, but also a gift package that includes variety of other gift cards, services and products from Mevert Automotive, Mi Casa Sub Shop, Steeleville Legion Bowl, Dave's Food Center, Border North Marketing, Williams Heating and Air Conditioning, Stearns Furniture, Moody's Pharmacy and other businesses.
"More than anything, I thought that I REALLY wanted to hammer home the message that when bad things happen to good people, EVEN MORE good people usually come together to make things right (have we not all learned this from Oprah and Ellen?)," Hinnerichs wrote. "I then realized that one of the only things that's better than owning your own business and being able to do the right thing, is being friends with LOTS of other business owners who love to help do the right thing too."
Hinnerichs wrote that he knows who the older woman is and did not name her, but stated she is no longer welcome at Pistol City. In a follow-up post on July 7, he wrote that the older woman had reached out to him and offered an apology he feels was sincere.
"I hope that the message people take away from this is small-town communities and small-town businesses are willing to step up to help someone who was wronged," Hinnerichs told the Herald Tribune. "I'm hoping people don't focus on the person who did this. I'm focusing on the positives rather than the negatives, and hope people do the same."