“There are no words to explain it”: Central Texas HEB showing support for grieving McGregor families, community

Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 5:54 PM CDT
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McGREGOR, Texas (KWTX) - A local HEB is showing its support for the grieving community of McGregor by placing balloons at the checkout lines at the popular store.

The large gold metallic balloons which spell out M-C-G-R-E-G-O-R have caught the attention of, not only thousands of shoppers, but the family of the victims from last Thursday’s shooting which left five people dead, including two high school students.

Sam Aviles is the brother-in-law of Lori Aviles and uncle to two-time former Miss McGregor Natalie Aviles, 20.

They were both killed when authorities say a shooter, which killed his partner and her two teenage kids in their home, then opened fire at random on Monroe Street in McGregor. Lori and Natalie were both outside their home next door to the suspect’s home getting ready to leave for work and college when they were fatally struck.

Sam said his family has been the recipient of so much love since the unthinkable tragedy and when they saw a picture of the balloons posted online by an HEB employee from McGregor they cried.

Sam made a special trip to the store Tuesday afternoon to see the display in person. He said it meant the world.

“I’m glad to be at HEB. It’s supporting me, my family and the other families, too, after what happened over there and it’s just good to be here and I wanted to give them thanks for everything they do, even if it’s just a little bit or even that right there. That right there means a lot to all of us,” Sam said pointing toward the balloons.

Central Texas HEB displays balloons at checkout, showing support for McGregor families.
Central Texas HEB displays balloons at checkout, showing support for McGregor families.(Courtesy Photo)

Store leader Mike Warden lives in McGregor, which is 12 miles down the road from the HEB, and says McGregor is home to many employees and customers.

He said they’ve been looking for ways to help show support. They’d already donated to the balloon release the families held Saturday in McGregor but wanted to do more.

“McGregor is home,” Warden said. “It’s home to me. It’s home to a lot of our partners here. It’s home to a lot of our customers that are here so it’s just a great small community that had a tragic event and it’s the least we could do.”

Warden said the idea came from 40-plus year employee Shawnese Harron, who is the department manager of the balloons department and employee Leticia Sultemeier.

Leticia recalls Lori shopping many times in her department at HEB. She said from her register in floral right across the aisle from the main checkout lines she’s witnessed many people stopping to remember the victims.

HEB doesn’t have a timeline on how long the balloons will be up, but Sam says the small gesture from his family’s favorite grocery store will go a long way.

“There are no words to explain it,” Sam said. “I just want to say thank you. Even if I had the lottery I wouldn’t’ be able to pay everybody back because there is just so much in our hearts.”

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