Beginning March 27, CHELCO initiated a weekly program to support locally-owned restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic. Each Friday, CHELCO selects one restaurant to provide lunches for the employees who remain working on-site. Lunches are paid for by CHELCO, but employees have generously provided tips for the employees of each restaurant.
Understandably, business has been greatly reduced for each of these restaurants, and CHELCO’s support has helped keep their business flowing each week. Several of them have expressed their thanks on social media.
“(Thank you to) CHELCO for contacting us about catering for them,” H&M Hot Dogs posted on Facebook. “We most definitely appreciate you folks for using us to get your employees fed for a day and hope to be able to do it again sometime!”
That Pizza Place filled one of their largest orders ever when CHELCO contacted them to provide lunch, and their staff rose to the occasion.
“I have to say a huge thank you to CHELCO for supporting us,” That Pizza Place said in a Facebook post. “86 pizzas and 24 salads first thing this morning. My crew did a great job.”
In addition to providing lunches to employees, CHELCO launched a “Jeans Friday” fundraiser to raise money for restaurants throughout its service territory. Employees may wear jeans on Fridays when they donate $5, and every dollar donated is given to locally-owned restaurants. CHELCO and Southland Utility Services have each agreed to match the weekly funds raised by employees, and CEO Steve Rhodes and his wife, Tami, have also agreed to personally match weekly contributions.
In these combined efforts, as of May 6, CHELCO, Southland and their employees have contributed over $7,000 to 14 local restaurants through lunches and donations. These fundraisers will continue until the crisis is over and restaurants are able to resume their normal business practices.
CHELCO is a not-for-profit electric distribution cooperative serving more than 53,000 member accounts in Okaloosa, Walton, Santa Rosa and Holmes counties.