Darden shares the late civil-rights leader’s passion for embracing our communities and strengthening them through volunteerism and other means of support. On MLK Day and every day, team members in our more than 1,500 restaurants try to improve the lives of others in countless ways. Here are a few recent examples:
The LongHorn Steakhouse restaurant on Maize Road in Wichita, KS, pulled out all the stops to help Carpenter Place, a home for girls unable to find foster families.
The restaurant team delivered four carloads of holiday gifts to the home, where the girls, some of whom are mothers, live “family style” in cottages with adult care providers. The items, which included an iPod, rocking chairs for cottage porches and pretend dress-up clothes for the toddlers, were purchased by team members and guests.
The team also served a dinner of ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, salad, green bean casserole, dinner rolls and cheesecake to the girls, their children and the Carpenter Place staff, staying to dine with them at the home.
“The girls and staff were delighted and appreciative,” said Managing Partner Cindy Jenkins. “We were humbled to share time with them.”
The LongHorn Steakhouse restaurant in Lawrenceville, GA, donated burgers and hot dogs for a Kiwanis Club event to brighten the lives of 300 underprivileged children. Culinary Professional Charlotte Bower, who serves Kiwanis members during their weekly visits to the restaurant, provided the food with help from Culinary Professional and Server Mary Ann Vig and Bar/Service Assistant Manager Judy Berry.
The Olive Garden location on Alpine Avenue NW in Grand Rapids, MI, served Fettucini Alfredo and spaghetti to more than 75 volunteers from the Humane Society of West Michigan. “Numerous families in our restaurant have benefited from the humane society’s great work, and we wanted to say thank you,” said Staffing and Training Manager Gregory Porath.
The LongHorn Steakhouse in St. Peters, MO, prepared a grilled chicken dinner for Emmaus Homes, which provides around-the-clock services to adults with developmental disabilities.
The Olive Garden restaurant in Tifton, GA, collected gifts for children living in a shelter for battered women. “We have done this every year since we opened, and it’s very rewarding,” said General Manager Michele Cavenaugh.
Bar and Host Manager Rikki Tobolski from the Bahama Breeze restaurant in Troy, MI, participated in a powerlifting competition to raise money for the Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit. The funds paid for 55 blankets and other neonatal needs. Rikki also delivers hot meals to senior citizens every week.
Team members from Darden’s Restaurant Support Center in Orlando, FL, sorted and packed food for the needy at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.
In addition to stories such as these, Darden restaurants donate nearly 10 million pounds of food a year through the Harvest Food Donation Program. The Darden Foundation has awarded more than $82 million in grants to organizations such as Feeding America and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. Darden also partners with the American Red Cross to help people affected by disasters.