By Kate Quesada

On a trip to the grocery store in the days following Hurricane Irma, Valrico resident Alissa Cribbs had an encounter that changed the lives of hundreds of workers giving their time to help Florida residents.
Cribbs was at a Publix deli with her children when she saw a man in work clothes waiting in line to order his lunch. She struck up a conversation about the hurricane and came to find out that he was a lineman from British Columbia working to restore power to residents in the Brandon area.

Linemen are workers who install and maintain electrical power, telephone or telegraph lines and thousands of them came into Florida from all over the country, many after just providing relief to victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, to help restore power to Florida residents in the heat during the wake of Irma.

“I felt the need to do something to say thank you, so I insisted that I pay for his lunch,” said Cribbs, mother to Mason (8) and Ethan (12). “I actually had to almost steal his food from him so he would let me pay for it, but when I did, he was so thankful that I decided there must be more workers like him out there that we could help too.”

When Cribbs got home, she posted on her Facebook page about her experience and within hours she had connected with friends working with TECO and others with local restaurants and by the next day her group was able to find and feed approximately 300 linemen from all over the country with meals from Midia’s Latin Grill, Zaxby’s, Beef O Brady’s, YoYo Juice, 3 C’s Catering and many more. Friends also brought homemade pot pies, brownies, water and chips.

“The men were tired, hungry and so thankful,” said Cribbs. “We could tell how much the delicious food meant to them.”

But Cribbs and her team didn’t stop there. The next day, they decided to feed a group of 70 National Guardsmen in addition to more linesmen, this time with help from Hungry Harry’s BBQ, Bubba Que’s, Bloomingdale Pizza and Davenport’s Daily Delights.

“These workers needed comfort,” said Peggy Davenport of Davenport’s Daily Delights, who made and donated meals for the National Guard and linesmen. “And what better way could we bring them comfort than by feeding them food we made ourselves.”

Over the course of three days, Cribbs and her group fed more than 650 people in the Valrico, Lithia, Dover and Plant City areas.

“They came to help us and feeding them is just our small way of saying thank you,” said Cribbs.

For more information on Tampa Electric’s lineman, visit

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Kate Quesada
Assignment Editor Kate Quesada started working at the Osprey Observer in 2004 after graduating from the University of South Florida with a masters degree in Mass Communications. Since then, she has held various positions at the paper and has been working as the assignment editor since January 2020. She lives in Lithia with her husband Mike and sons Dylan and Max and stays active in the community on school PTA boards and volunteering with local organizations.