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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Waffle House Staff Rally to Get Co Worker to Graduation

Waffle House Staff Rally to Get Co Worker to Graduation

When Timothy Harrison, 18, showed up for a shift at the Waffle House he worked at on the day of his high school graduation, his co-workers were confused. When his manager Cedric Hampton asked why he was there he explained that he couldn’t get a ride across town and he hadn’t been able to secure tickets for his family to attend so he decided to come into work.

Hampton, along with several co-workers, got to work putting together everything Harrison needed to attend the event. The staff made a list of what needed to be done to get Timothy there and divided it all up. Cedric and two others headed to a clothing store to buy Timothy a sharp new outfit, while another coworker, Shantana Blevins, drove Timothy to the high school to collect his cap and gown.

Once they had gathered what they needed, everyone took turns helping Timothy get ready so he could celebrate his accomplishment. Shantana stepped up again to drive Timothy to the ceremony, waiting outside the whole time until he was finished taking pictures and celebrating with his friends. She then drove the teen home and made sure he knew he had the whole night off to enjoy the momentous occasion.

Cedric said he was happy to help Timothy because he’s a good kid — and because it was the right thing to do! “He’s a fine young man,” Cedric added. “He’s a hard worker, very polite. It’s the least we could do for him.” Harrison said “I had people want to see me succeed, so it kind of made me excited. When I put on the clothes, it was a different feeling, I don’t even know the words. A million dollars? It was the best feeling.”

Their wonderful gesture even inspired Lawson State Community College to offer Timothy a full scholarship, even covering books, and he will start taking classes in the fall. “To know that I have a path to go somewhere? That’s something new,” Harrison said. Harrison’s co workers said they are going to continue to lift Harrison up. “Now he can go to college and figure out what to do in his life, and we’re gonna help guide him,” Hampton said.

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on Jersey Mike’s Raises $15 Million for Charities Nationwide

Jersey Mike’s Raises $15 Million for Charities Nationwide

Every March, Jersey Mike’s Subs holds their annual month of giving in all franchise locations nationwide.  Customers are invited to come in and donate to a local charity partner then on the last day in March, known as the all Jersey Mike’s locations across America donate 100 percent of sales—not just profits—to local charities. They set a company goal this year of raising $8 million but thanks to the generosity of their customers, blew past that mark to raise an incredible $15 million.  The money raised will help more than 200 charities nationwide.

More than 1,900 restaurants that are known for their in-store freshly-baked bread donated every penny of their sales on the 31st to hospitals, youth organizations, and food banks.  The fundraising total is double the amount raised in 2019 when the New Jersey-based company gave away $7.3 million to their communities.  Peter Cancro, Jersey Mike’s Founder & CEO said  “We really hoped to do well this year after the disappointment of having to cancel last year’s Day of Giving and the outpouring of support from across the country is truly inspiring.  We are filled with gratitude and admiration for our customers, franchise owners, and team members who have helped these charities in such a big way, now, when they need it more than ever.”

Jersey Mike’s began the practice in 2011, and over the years has raised more than $47 million for local charities and distributed more than 1.5 million free sub sandwiches to help numerous causes.

The company’s mission has always been: “Giving…making a difference in someone’s life”.  The company says their culture of giving at Jersey Mike’s is as much a part of their heritage as oil and vinegar. Every franchise store that is opened starts by partnering with a charity in the local community.

The next nationwide fundraising campaign is “Christmas in July” for Wreaths Across America.  From June 27 through July 11, Jersey Mike’s stores throughout the nation collect donations for this non-profit organization, which lays thousands of wreaths at the graves of the nation’s veterans in the Christmas season.

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on Nation’s Largest Hunger Relief Organization Needs Volunteers

Nation’s Largest Hunger Relief Organization Needs Volunteers

Feeding America is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs, they provide meals to more than 40 million people each year.  During the first months of the pandemic, roughly 4 in 10 people visiting food banks were seeking help for the first time.

Food banks have adapted to this new level of need with most food banks serving over 55% more people than before the pandemic began.  With the help of donations and volunteers, the Feeding America network provided nearly 6 billion meals to throughout the US from March 2020 to January 2021.  Member food banks received more than $326 million in emergency funding for their COVID response efforts.

Many people of all walks of life have helped make this all possible whether it was money or their time they donated.  Tiller & Hatch co-founders Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams Paisley pledged a donation of 1 million meals in partnership with Feeding America. The brand made stops in 15 cities to give out frozen, chef-crafted Tiller & Hatch meals to local communities nationwide.

Impossible Foods teamed up with Colin Kaepernick and Know Your Rights Camp to distribute more than 1 million meals in 2020.  Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and Disney Springs Chef José Andrés teamed up with Coca-Cola to donate $1 million to José’s World Central Kitchen to distribute 100,000 meals.  The initiative also helped 150 local restaurants in communities hit hardest by COVID-19 by enabling them to rehire up to 1,400 employees. 

Kanye West and Chick-fil-A both sponsored the Dream Center in Los Angeles, helping them to provide 300,000 meals to people in the area, including meal delivery to high-risk seniors in the community.  Tan France donated to Frontline Foods, an organization that’s still supporting local restaurants and frontline workers by delivering meals to hospitals. Frontline Foods is feeding healthcare providers and has helped local restaurants in 38 cities stay afloat.

Over a year into the pandemic, 42 million people, including 13 million children, may still be at risk of hunger.  Food banks are now accustomed to the increased number of people they are serving and Feeding America’s network of food banks are on pace to distribute 6.5 billion meals in 2021.  But none of this would have been possible without donations and volunteers stepping up to get food into the hands of those at risk. 

The pandemic reversed the last decade’s progress towards ending hunger in the United States. Sixty-five percent of network food banks working with Feeding America are accepting and still in need of volunteers.  Unfortunately, many people continue to face unemployment and families still struggle to pay bills like housing, utilities, and medical care.  Many people who had never volunteered before did so for the first time during the pandemic. The generosity many have shown and determination of everyday people to create solutions to the social distancing obstacles through the pandemic has kept millions of families going and the need is still there. 

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on New Zealand Nonprofit & Supermarket Chain Partner to Combat Food Insecurity

New Zealand Nonprofit & Supermarket Chain Partner to Combat Food Insecurity

A first of its kind supermarket opened in Wellington, New Zealand on March 16, 2021 thanks to the efforts of the Wellington City Mission and the supermarket chain New World.  The social supermarket is just like any other supermarket, with fruits and vegetables, sanitary products, pasta, cheese and baked beans lined up along the aisles.  While it has the look and feel of a regular supermarket, this store has no prices, all the food is free. 

This new market is a big shift from the traditional model of people who are food insecure receiving ready-made parcels because it gives people the dignity of being able to choose their own food.  In a time when food insecurity is on the rise in New Zealand, the new social supermarket will go a long way in reducing the stigma of people who cannot afford to purchase food on their own.

The Wellington City Mission’s blog post explained “We can only imagine how hard it must be for someone to ask for food support. The concept of the Social Supermarket is about providing dignity, self-respect and encouragement to those who are vulnerable in our local community. We wanted to make a positive change to our Foodbank model.  We already had a close working relationship with New World across Wellington, they’re always hugely supportive with donations and through their annual Family2Family Foodbank Appeal, so when we started to develop the Social Supermarket concept, we picked the phone up and asked for their help.”

Chris Quin, CEO of Foodstuffs North Island who operate New World, says the partnership is a natural extension of a long-standing relationship between New World, it’s local owner operators and Wellington City Mission. Working together on the Social Supermarket, which is a first of its kind in New Zealand, provided an opportunity to extend the co-operative’s commitment to helping ensure all New Zealanders have access to healthy food.

The supermarket will be open for anyone in need in the Wellington region. This includes people who are already receiving help from the mission or who are referred from other social service agencies.  People do not have to prove that they are in need to shop at the supermarket but appointments are necessary. The super is open Monday – Friday from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm with social workers on hand to help the shoppers.  People are allocated points depending on their individual situations. A single adult is allocated $55 in points and families receive more. There are also special bins that include items that do not come out of the point system.

The market stocks almost anything you can find in a grocery store except alcohol or tobacco products and already has 3,000 different products. Even though the new store is being supported by a large chain, food donations are still needed and wanted.

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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on Mercy Chefs Serves 10 Millionth Meal

Mercy Chefs Serves 10 Millionth Meal

In February, the Virginia-based disaster relief and humanitarian aid group, Mercy Chefs, reached the milestone of serving its 10 millionth meal. Founded after Hurricane Katrina, the nonprofit organization has served professionally prepared restaurant-quality meals to victims and first responders in 27 states and 10 countries, responding to more than 134 disasters.


Since the start of the Covid 19 pandemic in March 2020, they have distributed 7 million meals with the help of 10,000 community volunteers. The group uses coronavirus response distribution locations it has established across the US, where Mercy Chefs works with food distributors and volunteers to supplement the USDA Family Farmers Food Box Program with more meals.


Mercy Chefs has also deployed to locations in 2020 following natural disasters, including Hurricanes Hanna and Laura; and the recent tornado in Alabama. They have repeatedly returned to Panama City to serve those still affected by Hurricane Michael. Just after reaching their milestone, they headed to Dallas Texas when the call for help came as severe cold weather left millions without electricity, water or food.


They served thousands of hot meals to Texans during the unprecedented storms from a large mobile kitchen at Gateway Church North Fort Worth Campus. The team served both lunch and dinner to the community, distributing food from multiple locations. Mercy Chefs utilized several kitchens in order to prepare meals to distribute to citizens and also. They also have been working to provide clean drinking water to those who need it throughout Texas.


Founder Gary LeBlanc said he was driven to help with disaster relief on a broader scale when he volunteered in his hometown of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. “The devastation was so intense and widespread. I saw firsthand the incredible difference a hot meal could make. I was inspired to the point of distraction by the idea of serving high-quality food in a disaster area. Little did I know how far that distraction would lead and Mercy Chefs now has three mobile kitchens and two refrigerated trailers. “


LeBlanc founded the non-profit in 2006 to help with disaster relief and they are often one of the first organizations to arrive following a major weather event. His teams are capable of providing 15,000 meals daily to meet the needs of devastated communities. When the pandemic started Mercy Chefs delivered millions of meals through grocery box distribution in places like Texas, Florida, Virginia, Puerto Rico, Oklahoma and others. They are also working toward ways to support people in food insecure communities with job skills training, single mothers cooking classes, and budget recipe creation.

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6 months ago · by · Comments Off on Americorps Youths Deployed During Pandemic

Americorps Youths Deployed During Pandemic

National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), or AmeriCorps NCCC is an AmeriCorps program that engages 18- to 24-year-olds in team-based national and community service in the United States.  They recently they deployed 230 energetic young adults from across the nation in 24 teams across the country, assisting community groups that are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic or implementing wildfire management in the West.

The youths piled into vans to begin a new adventure serving others through the NCCC.  The training for AmeriCorps began in October and emphasized Covid-19 safety, teamwork, leadership development, and communication.  From tackling food insecurity to providing affordable housing, these youth are bridging the gap by providing much-needed volunteers to areas in need.

Habitat for Humanity is one of the groups that is benefitting from the ten week deployments. Two of the teams are wielding hammers and power tools assisting with affordable home construction in Sacramento.  Another team traveled to Stockton, California to help with food distribution and another group is in California assisting with fire management.

One team arrived in Oregon to work on similar projects and upkeep the environment while another is serving Salt Lake City, Utah.  Bode Anderson-Brown discovered the most impactful aspect was getting out of his comfort zone.   “It was so rewarding to talk to homeowners and know that because of the work I was doing, they are going to be safer and more protected from wildfires. I know that this is an experience I will take with me for the rest of my life.  Talking to people on the phone and getting them the assistance they need… I previously considered this to be out of my wheelhouse, but have now discovered that I have a talent for it!”

Other groups are assisting the Health Department by supporting coronavirus testing sites and delivering hygiene supplies to residents.  They each will graduate from NCCC on July 14th, after completing 3-5 long-term service projects investing over 1,700 hours. In exchange, members receive $6,395 to help pay for college or pay back existing student loans.  The 10-month residential program funded by the U.S. government engages around 2,100 young people every year between the ages of 18 and 24. It was originally envisioned by a bipartisan group of Senators and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

The NCCC program was loosely based on the depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).  In some respects, NCCC teams resemble their CCC predecessors, who were also required to function under rugged conditions for prolonged periods and engage in strenuous conservation and wildfire-fighting projects, flood control, and disaster relief.  The main difference between the two is unlike the original CCC, the NCCC was not created to be a public work relief program, but rather was designed to help communities meet self-identified needs through service projects and develop leadership skills in its participants.

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6 months ago · by · Comments Off on Mark Cuban’s Partnership Could Change The Pharmaceutical Market

Mark Cuban’s Partnership Could Change The Pharmaceutical Market

After Dr. Alex Oshymansky, a radiologist in Dallas, TX started a public-benefit company to combat the exploding prices of certain prescription drugs, he attracted a new partner—Shark Tank billionaire investor Mark Cuban.  Oshymansky started in 2015 with Osh’s Affordable Pharmaceuticals and a million dollars in investment capital. Four years later, the new partnership is moving forward under the name Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drug Co, and donating medicine to those in need.

Mark Cuban has been outspoken about his disdain of the mixture of FDA demands for approval, and drug company greed creating soaring prices for drugs, making them unaffordable to many Americans.   Now under Cuban’s brand name, the private-label arrangement allows Oshymansky to buy from third party suppliers, take care of the labeling and branding laws himself, and sell it at a serious discount with just a 15% mark-up for the business expenses.

This partnership allowed the pair to lower the cost of an anti-parasitic medication called albendazole from its normal U.S. price range of $225-$500, down to just $20.  This proved especially valuable for Baylor College of Medicine, who needed thousands of doses of albendazole to complete a study they were doing on U.S. hookworm infections in the South.

“The Germ of the South,” was a catch-all term that characterized a curious lethargy and haziness of the brain, distended bellies, and emaciated shoulder blades, found across the Deep South during the 20th century. Today, American hookworm still infects large numbers of people, particularly children, due to poor sanitation and poverty.  A study done in Lowndes County, Alabama of 24 homes found that 34% of stool samples contained the parasite, which is killed rather quickly by albendazole.

Cuban and Oshymansky donated the first 10,000 doses of the company’s albendazole supply to Baylor and the author of the study, Dr. Rojelio Mejia, so that volunteers from Alabama to New York who test positive for hookworm could immediately purge the parasite from their bodies.  “We found it deeply troubling that albendazole is extremely expensive in the United States, and are happy to be able to manufacture it for free for this research and provide it at significantly decreased prices to the rest of the U.S. market.”

Other drug companies estimate that the number of doses Cuban and Oshymansky donated would have cost $2 million, an overwhelming cost that would have kept the research from being conducted.  Cuban’s Cost Plus Drugs is aiming for 100 new drug offerings by the end of 2021, all with no hidden costs, no middlemen and no rebates only available to insurance companies.  They’re also in the process of constructing their own brick-and-mortar pharmacy in Dallas where they hope to earn a profit on non-pharmaceutical items that can fund the lower cost formulations and offer drugs for rare diseases directly to patients or through outpatient facilities.  If successful, Cuban and Oshymansky’s efforts could force drug companies that continue to overcharge their customers to lower their prices or go out of business.

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6 months ago · by · Comments Off on Somerset Police Officer Praised For Kindness

Somerset Police Officer Praised For Kindness

While times are tough for so many, it’s encouraging to know there are people who step in to help when they have the opportunity.  Such an instance happened for a Massachusetts police officer who declined to charge two women accused of trying to steal groceries for their children.  Somerset Officer Matt Lima is being praised for using his own money to purchase $250 gift cards for two women accused of trying to steal groceries last month. The women said they wanted to provide a Christmas meal for their children.

Lima responded to a report of shoplifting Dec. 20 at Stop & Shop, where two women with two young children were accused of putting groceries into bags at a self-checkout kiosk without scanning them.  Upon his arrival, Officer Lima spoke to a Stop & Shop asset protection associate who told him that he observed the suspects, two women with two young children, allegedly not scanning all of their groceries and then putting them into shopping bags at the self-checkout kiosks.

The associate then printed the transaction receipt and noticed numerous items they took were missing. The suspects were subsequently asked to return inside with their items while they awaited for Somerset Police to respond.  When Lima noticed that the only items stolen were food, he asked one of the women why she did it.  “She stated that, obviously it goes without saying, that times are tough for a lot of people, that she was working but not enough and didn’t make enough money and that there were some other family issues going on and that she just wanted to provide a Christmas dinner for the kids,” Lima recounted.

Officer Lima served the two women Notice Not To Trespass forms and informed the associate that he would not be pressing criminal charges as all the missing items on their receipt were groceries.  “The two children with the women reminded me of my kids, so I had to help them out,” Officer Lima said.  Officer Lima asked about where the items were that the suspects allegedly attempted to take and was informed that they have been returned to their shelves. Officer Lima then subsequently purchased gift cards in the amount of $250 with his own money so the women would be able to purchase groceries for their Christmas dinner at another Stop & Shop location. 

Chief George McNeil said “I would like to personally commend Officer Lima for his actions,” Chief McNeil said. “His actions exemplify what it means to protect and serve the members of our community. When faced with a difficult situation in which a family was trying to provide a meal for their kids, he made the generous decision to not press charges and instead ensured that they would have a Christmas dinner they could enjoy.  This incident is a true testament of Officer Lima’s great character and decision making.”

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7 months ago · by · Comments Off on Two Young Entrepreneurs Donating to Animal Shelters

Two Young Entrepreneurs Donating to Animal Shelters

Two 12 year old entrepreneurs have donated thousands to animal shelters from their sales on a successful invention, the Ornament Anchor. Brothers Ayaan and Mickey Naqvi, who live in Shelton, Connecticut, were decorating their family Christmas tree last year when one of their favorite ornaments succumbed to the forces of gravity. The beloved family dog, Zara, whose tail Ayaan describes as an “ornament missile,” may have played a part as well.


While the decoration couldn’t be saved, the brother decided to find a better way to hang ornaments so they’d be truly secure. Using a loop and toggle system, Ayaan created the prototype and presented it for a school project. The reception was overwhelmingly favorable—so favorable in fact, the boys quickly decided to turn their invention into a potential money-making proposition. “My brother and I worked together to design the product, patent it, create an awesome website, calculate profit margins and did our own market analysis.” Ayaan said.


This wasn’t the boys’ first commercial invention attempt. A previous gadget landed the pair and their family on an episode of Shark Tank. While they didn’t cut a deal, it was a true learning experience. From $1,000 in sales in six hours at a local Christmas trade show, the Ornament anchor went on to be showcased on Good Morning America as well as being featured on QVC and Amazon Launchpad. In one year, the brothers’ invention has raked in more than $250,000.


Ayaan and Mickey are determined to pay their good fortune forward by donating 10% of their profits to local animal shelters. “Ever since I was super young, I’ve had a fascination with all of life’s creatures,” Ayaan explained. “My goal is to help as many animals in need as I can.”


While they’re enjoying their well-earned windfall, the boys admit that starting a new business in 2020 has had its challenges. “Running a business with your brother has its pros and cons. But, we make it work and we’re the best of friends always,” Mika’il said. “It’s an amazing journey,” Ayaan said. “With my brother especially. Just to go along and just us together selling our product is really cool.”


Adjusting to distance learning and other constraints of the coronavirus lockdown wasn’t easy. Through the turbulent times, they say they’ve just tried to take things one step at a time and keep a positive attitude because that—along with the love and support of their family—are what keeps them anchored.

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8 months ago · by · Comments Off on 81 Year Old Customer And Dunkin Donuts Staff Bond Amid Pandemic

81 Year Old Customer And Dunkin Donuts Staff Bond Amid Pandemic

A Dunkin’ Donuts crew in Concord, California, has adopted an 81 year old customer separated from his family and friends as their unofficial “Grandpa”. Gilbert “Gil” Walker, a retired high school teacher of almost 40 years, began making daily coffee trips to the local Dunkin when the pandemic interrupted his regular breakfast get together with friends. After he left them a $280 tip, the staff was so touched by the gesture that they have all adopted him as Grandpa ever since.

Walker began visiting as a way to safely get out of the house during the stay at home orders. Walker and owner Matt Cobo had a conversation that left Walker wanting to help. “I asked … if he had to lay anyone off and he said he had 14 employees and wanted to keep them but had to cut their hours,” Walker said. He started to think of ways he could help, and a little movement was born. On his next visit, Walker presented Cabo with an envelope of $280 cash, or $20 for each staffer. They were so moved by his gesture of kindness, they started calling Walker “Grandpa,” and adopted him as one of their own.

Cobo said that when the first shelter-in-place orders went into effect, “There was this feeling, this emptiness, this uncertainty of what was going to happen. We all felt it. We were scared,” he explained. “What Grandpa did that time was so much more than a gesture of kindness. He made us feel like things were going to be OK.”
Since then, there is a kindness shared between the staff and “Grandpa Gil.” They have signs posted throughout that jokingly read: Anyone who lets “Grandpa” pay is terminated immediately-The Management. “It became a contest of how I could convince them to take my money and them not taking it,” Walker laughed. “We’ve had a lot of maneuvering just to try to get money inside the door.”

Walker’s family even tips the staff off about upcoming events like his birthday or anniversary with his wife, Virginia. When Walker and his wife celebrated 62 years together, the staff set them up with a Dunkin’ smorgasbord in honor of the anniversary. “Holy cow, they’d set up a whole table inside the building, pictures of our wedding, a dozen white roses and food,” Walker said. “They had maple bars in the shape of a heart, it was crazy.”

In September, for Walker’s 81st birthday, the staff surprised him with a party, a sign and gifts in honor of his big day. “They were just all teary-eyed, and when you see that, you’re just like man, our work here is done,” Cobo said. “No one can deserve it more than him … it’s been really fun.” Walker, who has three kids, 13 grandkids and 20 great-grandchildren, said his closest family lives hundreds of miles away. The staff at Dunkin’ Donuts, mostly teens and young adults — have been there for him through this pandemic. “Those kids kind of remind me of my family,” he said. “They’re really nice and just treat me well every single day.”

Cobo said they consider Walker part of their family and the staff are always rushing to the drive-thru window each morning to say hi when “Grandpa” rolls up. “He doesn’t have any grandkids around and that’s part of why I think he’s developed this relationship … Maybe not technically family but we’d love to kind of fill in as his local grandkids. We all just think he’s incredible. There’s people that just have this smile and warmth — you say, ‘This guy is just goodness,’” Cobo explained. “That’s what he is. People catch that and they share that.”

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