During the holiday season, our restaurant teams are even more eager to get out and help those in need. The stories coming in from our restaurants are heartwarming and illustrative of the power of community involvement. Many of our restaurants donate both food and time to causes they are passionate about. Over Thanksgiving, Jacob Rosales, an Olive Garden server at the Springfield, Ohio, restaurant, made a simple request to his General Manager to purchase a pan of lasagna for the Springfield Soup Kitchen, where he had been volunteering for the past few months. Upon learning why Jacob wanted the lasagna, General Manager Jason Jacobs wanted to do more. In the past, the Springfield Soup Kitchen was closed on Thanksgiving, but this year, more than 200 people at the soup kitchen were treated to dinner donated from Olive Garden.
Olive Garden knows how cherished time with loved ones can be for military families, especially during the holiday months. Throughout the entire month of November, Olive Garden took part in Military Family Appreciation Month through special offers for military members and their families and a partnership with the USO to support the United Through Reading Military Program. The Olive Garden restaurant in Sarasota, Florida, continued this commitment in December by hosting a special holiday meal for military families in partnership with Goodwill Manasota, which also has a long-standing commitment to veterans. The event reinforced Olive Garden's ongoing goal to create special moments of togetherness for families.
Many of our restaurants tried to create brighter holidays for local children. For the second year, the LongHorn Steakhouse restaurant in Independence, Ohio, partnered with the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services to host multiple holiday celebrations for foster children. The more than 40 children at each event were treated to breakfast at LongHorn, ornament decorating and games. Managing Partner Larry Barnett and Service Manager Joanie Slivka even made special appearances dressed up as Santa and Mrs. Claus to the delight of all who attended.
The Northwest Georgia Family Crisis Center provides shelter, support and resources for domestic violence victims. This year, the center hosted a toy drive for the women and children living at the shelter. The Dalton Red Lobster management team encouraged all of their employees to get involved, and as a result, collected more than 350 toys for the center. One server, Scott Turpin, even donated eight cases of small toys and two cases of school supplies on his own.
Beyond our restaurants, employees at our Restaurant Support Center also strive to spread holiday cheer. Connie Coleman from our Employee Relations team took desserts from an office holiday celebration to The Foundation for Life, an organization that provides shelter, programs and assistance for the homeless and recovering addicts. Along with Santa Claus, Connie distributed the goodies to people at one of the organization’s group homes.
We are proud to see our restaurant teams serving their communities both inside and outside of the restaurants and living up to our core value of "Being of Service." From the entire Darden family, we wish your family a safe and happy holiday season.