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RIVERTON — A grocery store recently went above and beyond its usual perks for loyal customers to help a family in need.
Penny Tucker has four children, all of whom have Down syndrome. Each child has an iPad to help them with learning and other functions.
"For kids with special needs, (the iPads are) a learning tool," Tucker said. "They're how they can function. ... They learn their ABCs and they can do puzzles and play games, which is good hand-eye coordination."
On Monday, the family was shopping at Fresh Market in Riverton, where they are regular customers. When they got to their car, they discovered one of the iPads, which belonged to her son, Raddy, was gone.
When she asked her daughter, Abby, 12, what happened to the iPad, the girl answered, "The blonde lady took it."
I don't understand how someone can take something from a child, let alone a child with disabilities.
–Penny Tucker, mother of theft victim
Unfortunately, that's all the information that could be gathered on the thief. Surveillance video did not capture the heist.
Abby was very upset, according to Tucker, and kept blaming herself and apologizing to her brother for losing the iPad. Tucker said she reassured her daughter that it was not her fault.
"I don't understand how someone can take something from a child, let alone a child with disabilities," Tucker said.
What further upset the mother was the fact that many memories her kids created and recorded on the devices are now gone with it.
“It’ll just show my three older kids turning on the music and dancing and laughing and playing and wrestling," she said. "They know how to make their own movies.”
Those memories may or may not be returned to the family, but staff at the store where the theft took place stepped up to help the Tuckers by purchasing them a new iPad.
Store director Brian Simons said it was the least Fresh Market could do for the family.
"Penny is one of our greatest customers. She comes in all the time. We love her kids. They're all friendly," Simons said. "We just feel very sad for what happened. … It's very disappointing that someone would … do this to such a great lady with such great kids."
Tucker was moved and grateful for the gesture.
"I'm touched, just can't say thanks enough," she said. "I really appreciate it."
Contributing: Nadine Wimmer