Bay City businessman gives away thousands of dollars in groceries to those in need

Rod Hildebrant says he didn’t do it for the publicity, that he didn’t do it for people to write articles about him.

But when a person donates $10,000 in groceries back to the community, chances are that someone’s going to write about it.

Hildebrant is a well-established Bay City businessman with City Market, City Office, and Shine Water among his local portfolio. His record of charitable giving goes back about just as far as his business interests here — almost 40 years.

Rod Hildebrant offered to buy the first $40 worth of groceries people purchased at City Market between 2 and 4 p.m. Dec. 15.When Hildebrant made a simple post on his personal Facebook page saying that from 2 to 4 p.m. on Dec. 15, the first $40 worth of groceries was “on him” at City Market, the post went viral. It was shared nearly 700 times across the social media platform.

There was no advertising. It was all word-of-mouth, essentially.

On the actual day, 250 people came through the market, 401 Center Ave. With each receiving $40 in groceries, that puts Hildebrant’s total gift around $10,000.

And all from his own pocket.

“This was only about helping people out. Putting food on the table never makes you feel bad,” Hildebrant says.

“It’s Christmastime and I wanted to help everyone I could.”

A Facebook post following the giveaway saw Hildebrant imploring the community to help their friends and neighbors in need.

About 250 people took advantage of Hildebrant's offer.This is not the first time Hildebrant has used his position to give back to the community. It was only the week prior when he gave away $2,500 in City Market gift cards to members of the area’s service industry, a group that includes servers, bartenders, dishwashers and more.

“Last week I was feeling really bad that our servers and bartenders are out of work — and through no fault of their own. It’s not that they’re lazy and sitting on their butts. These are people impacted directly by COVID-19,” Hildebrant says.

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