She is an artist, she is an athlete, she volunteers, she is a hard-working Sobeys employee, she is all of this and so much more.
She is Leonka Kaluha.
The 35-year-old is someone who puts her heart into everything she does from art projects, to sports, to taking the Polar Plunge for the past seven years raising over $15,000 for Special Olympics programs.
Despite all her endeavors, Leonka still makes time to work twice a week as a Courtesy Clerk at Sobeys - Cranston in Calgary.
“Everyone's friendly and welcoming and always happy,” says Leonka. “Sobeys is a great workplace and everyone's willing to jump up and do anything to make the customers happy.”
After impressing as a volunteer during the Sobeys’ Fall Food Fair last year, Leonka was personally offered a job by store owners Greg and Chantel Dunlop.
And she has been working there ever since.
Leonka was hired in October and has slowly been given more tasks at the store including putting together baskets, bringing in carts, sweeping the store, bagging groceries, doing price checks, and helping customers out whenever she can.
She has become excellent at bagging groceries and even added that the store likes how fast she is while still being thorough.
Leonka loves meeting customers and getting outside to grab carts on nice days, but the work atmosphere is what means the most to her.
“[Sobeys] treats me like one of them,” says Leonka. “They treat me normal, like they would if I was any other co-worker.”
Since 2016, Sobeys Inc. has been a proud national partner of Special Olympics Canada. Empowering Special Olympics athletes to live healthier lives has been a mission for Sobeys from the earliest days of our national partnership.
Sobeys has contributed more than $2.8 million to Special Olympics community sports programs, year-round food donations, and Nutrition Sessions to help athletes make healthy choices.
They have also built an inclusive workforce through employing athletes like Leonka in their stores across the country.
Inclusivity is something that resonates with Leonka and with Sobeys she definitely feels included.
Sobeys works around Leonka’s busy schedule, offers her extra shifts, provides her with support wherever they can, and treat her like an equal by having her work up front; thereby, trusting in her to provide assistance for customers.
Leonka is often tasked with helping customers with price checks.
But what stands out to Leonka is not only the support from other staff, but customers too.
Staff members help her when she cannot find an item and even customers help show her where they found something if Leonka is having trouble finding it.
Overall, Leonka feels included and supported by the people at Sobeys.
“I'm very proud to call Sobeys my family,” says Leonka.
The support from Sobeys is extremely important to Leonka and just this week, she gave a speech to 20 executives at the Sobeys office in Calgary explaining how her life has improved as an employee and athlete because of the organization.
“Sobeys are fans in the stands, they put on Healthy Athlete programs, [they] cut down travel costs and [help] if we need new equipment,” says Leonka.
From June 20 to July 3, 2019, Sobeys stores will come together from coast to coast (excluding Quebec) to support Special Olympics across Canada with its second national in-store check-stand fundraising campaign.
Customers can support the campaign by donating $2 at the check-stand.
On Saturday, June 22, Sobeys and Safeway stores will host Special Olympics Alberta athletes for their second national Food Fair.
Athletes will be in the stores from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. interacting with customers and answering questions about their participation in Special Olympics programs.
Leonka hopes customers shop at Sobeys every day, but also added, “Come on Saturday to support Special Olympics, meet some athletes, and support a great cause.”
Sobeys’ goal is to raise $1 million over the 14-day in-store check-stand campaign, with 100 per cent of funds raised supporting Special Olympics programs in communities across Canada.
Visit specialolympics.ca/sobeys for full campaign details.
Head to your local Sobeys or Safeway store throughout the campaign and donate $2 when you check out to support Special Olympics athletes across the country.