The firefighters had been fighting a house fire since 3:35am. Heather Levia says that she and the co-workers had responded to a request from The Salvation Army. When she was told by superiors that the company would not make a donation, she provided $150 in food that the three paid for.
A local Salvation Army official told the Times Herald that the organization typically sends an emergency disaster vehicle when first responders will be on a scene for a long time. The vehicle brings food, water, and blankets for both first responders and victims. According to WIVB-TV, the firefighters had been working in sub-zero temperatures.
Levia first wrote about the event on Facebook:
WIVB-TV reported that some firefighters had initially called the McDonald's to complain, thinking that the company had forced the workers to pay for the food. According to an interview with Levia, her supervisor said, "You opened a whole bee's nest." She was allegedly fired during her next shift, accused of swearing at a supervisor.
I have been with the olean mcdonalds for almost eight years... Today I was terminated because local firefighters called for donations for food. The mcdonalds company denied the donations to help support our firefighters. Myself and two other employees paid out of pocket to feed these firemen.. asking the office before answering yes or no to these firemen. I was told I swore and Hung up on a office worker. Who would ever think that someone would lose their job for giving to those who risk their lives to save ours... Look for my letter to the editor in the olean times herald... There will be more on this story. <sic>
"I did say this is 'freaking' ridiculous," Levia said "But it was not implied to anybody."
Levia has twins, two jobs, and is putting herself through nursing school, according to WIVB.
According to the Times Herald story, Levia, who was the morning shift manager, said that although she had been fired, the other two employees had not.
The owner of the franchise, Tom Meyers, told the Times Herald that his company, the Meyers Organization, was "thoroughly investigating this matter and how it was handled." Someone from the company told the paper that the workers had been compensated for the $150. Meyers himself reportedly told WIVB that Levia's "allegations are absolutely not true."
"I was told I was being fired for going against the wishes of McDonald's as well has having my own opinion on not donating to the firefighters," she said. "I was so caught off-guard by this. I'm very distraught that I would be fired over something like this. I was just trying to give back to the firefighters and they weren't asking for much."
Allegany Fire Media Officer Gordon Scott told WIVB: "It was a shock. We certainly regret the fact she lost her job."
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