"They put their lives on the line every day," one of the owners said of his staff.By Nicole Ford

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Every day throughout the pandemic, people have gone to work on the frontlines. Grocery store staff are no exception.

“They put their lives on the line every day. We have masks, gloves, disinfectant, but we aren’t a hospital. We don’t have gowns and aren’t totally protected, and we are interacting with people all day,” said Jim Kaczorowski.

Jim and his wife Michelle own the Shop ‘N Save on Mount Washington. They didn’t know what to expect owning a grocery store in a pandemic.

“I just look back and think my employees, they are like heroes. My heroes. They came here every day. It’s rewarding to think back at how tough how strong they were to come in here every day to work knowing they might get sick here they may die,” Jim said.

The gratitude for their staff is evident.

“Such dedication, they deserve the world. I wish I could give it to them,” Michelle said.

Each employee walks the aisles or chats with a customer, each time with a smile. While the smiles can’t be seen beneath the mask, the warmth is felt by the customers who come in the front door.

“We know what everyone wants to eat, we know what everyone likes. We have specials for certain people because we know their situations. It’s just a family store in a family neighborhood,” Jim said.

So the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation is recognizing this staff, these owners, and the neighborhood store as “Neighbors of the Year.”

“It brought happiness in a time of heartache basically,” Michelle said.

The staff working six to seven days a week told KDKA they keep coming back for Jim and Michelle.

“They are here because they love us. That itself, not bonuses because we’ve tried to do that, but it’s also because he makes them feel good and I think that’s what’s kept them so dedicated,” Michelle said.

While this award is just a title, it’s the kind of title this group of neighbors are proud to wear.

The Shop ‘N Save staff shares the title this year with John Macellaro Jr. He is a lifelong Mount Washington resident and a youth sports director at Ream Recreation Center.