There’s no denying that Kentucky Fried Chicken is finger-lickin’ good, but that’s not the only thing that keeps one Toronto fan coming back to his favorite franchise year after year.
Apart from the food, this loyal customer has formed a special bond with a KFC employee who befriended him when he was just 5 years old.
Jason Schweitzer first met Emilia when he and his mom would stop in for a weekly Sunday meal. “From being a young boy and hanging out with my mom at the walk-in location at Broadview and Gerrard in Chinatown,” Schweitzer told the Toronto Sun, “When you grow up, and you recognize a face, it becomes a part of your mind-space.”
There was an almost instant rapport between the little boy and the sweet-natured worker who took a shine to him. “I would always ask my mom ‘Is the funny lady there? Is the funny lady there?’” Schweitzer said in an interview with CTV News. “[Emilia] would always hook me up with some French fries. She was always very kind and she was always very funny.”
Recently, Schweitzer witnessed a rude customer give his cherished friend a dressing down, to which Emilia reacted with her usual good-natured aplomb. “I stepped back and minded my business, but I thought, ‘How could someone still be here working after all these years? You have to deal with the good people, the bad people, and grumpy people,” he told the Sun.
Not long after that incident, Schweitzer, who’d grown concerned for Emilia’s well-being during the COVID-19 crisis, came up with a plan to honor the woman who’d been serving up her own patented brand of personalized customer service to the community for nearly 50 years.
In order to ensure that 70-year-old Emilia would have transportation, PPE, rent money, and other necessities as well as a financial cushion for her future, Schweitzer set up a GoFundMe on her behalf so Emilia can “continue being an amazing person.”
In a matter of days, donations totaling more than $25,000 had flooded in and were on target to reach the campaign’s $30,000 goal. Schweitzer is extremely grateful.
“The kindness from all your hearts with the donations received, just shows how as a community, city, country we can all make a difference,” he stated in an updated post. “[S]mall or big. Continue the energy.”
KFC’s secret recipe of “11 herbs and spices” may be one of the industry’s best-kept trade secrets, but thankfully, Emilia’s pay-it-forward formula for human kindness has a unique open source-patent that promises no matter how many bites you take, you’ll always have room for more.