Member Stories

Neighbors Rally to Help Beloved Costco Greeter After Stroke

Written by Jen Burke

Debra Reese was more than just a smiling face as she greeted shoppers at the midtown Costco in Kansas City. She’s been a fixture in the community, well known for her generous smile, loving heart, and endless hugs for 17 years.

Debra, who is beloved by neighbors for her warm smile and welcoming spirit.

Debra, who is beloved by neighbors for her warm smile and welcoming spirit.

Shoppers and community members had grown accustomed to her welcoming ways and always looked forward to her big smile as they walked through the Costco doors. However, one day Debra was not in her usual spot to greet everyone each morning. Neighbors and shoppers began to wonder where she went.

Worried about their beloved greeter, Debra’s whereabouts became the main topic of conversation on Nextdoor. One neighbor, Nicole King, had gotten to know Debra during the many trips she made to Costco over the past 15 years, and was the first to post on Nextdoor.

Soon enough, neighbors found out that Debra had suffered a massive stroke and was on life support. Now, the woman who had spent countless years greeting them with warmth and a smile needed them.

“When we heard she had suffered a massive stroke, we had to do something,” Nicole said. “We had to let people know. Everyone knows who she is.”

The community began to rally. They collected cards and letters from neighbors and Costco customers to deliver to Debra, and also created a GoFundMe page to help with medical bills.

“She’s a day brightener,” one neighbor wrote on Nextdoor.

“She makes your day every time you see her,” said another.

Thanks to the community’s support, Debra’s hospital room was soon full of cards, flowers and letters from the greater community. In addition, the community surpassed the $10,000 goal set for Debra’s medical bills, raising over $13,000 for her and her family.

Debra’s daughter was very appreciative of the kindness shown by the community.  “I can’t even thank everyone enough for the cards and the flowers. She has gotten so many,” she said. “We’re talking about from strangers. I have never met these people in my life; they are are so supportive when it comes to my mother. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

The community and her daughter hope that Debra will recover quickly and be back in the spot she loves to be in very soon.


As reported by The Kansas City Star.

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