The Front Line Appreciation Group (FLAG) was first created in Madison and Chatham New Jersey last month to help first responders eat and small businesses stay in business during this coronavirus pandemic.
When Roshni Patel, Ava Martin and Barbara Santoro learned about this group, they were eager to help first responders and businesses in our area as well. So they started FLAG of South Orange and Maplewood.
“We all have friends or family who are frontline healthcare workers and hearing stories of how they didn’t have time to eat or shop for groceries only fueled our desire to be able to help,” said Patel. “For us, this was a win- win. With restaurants having to let go of a number of their employees, we needed to be able to plow money back to them to generate some sort of income.”
And though their GoFundMe site went live less than a month ago, they have already raised more than $59,000.
Says Patel, “we’ve paid about $20k back to participating SOMA restaurants and had about 2,000 meals delivered to hospitals. Not only does it give the restaurants some income, but it’s been a real morale booster for some of their employees.”
FLAG of South Orange and Maplewood focuses on Newark-based hospitals.
Says Santoro in a Facebook post, “[r]ight now, we deliver meals to Newark Beth Israel 7 days a week. We deliver meals to Newark University Hospital and East Orange General Hospital 3 days a week. Starting this week, we will also donate meals to St. Michael’s Hospital in Newark…We are working with other FLAG groups/organizations so that, between all of us, we cover as many area hospitals as we can, as often as we can.”
Patel and Santoro emphasize that additional funds mean they can get to more hospitals more frequently. They try to work with as many SOMA restaurants as they can.
Says Patel, “[i]t’s all about being kind to one another, at a time where neighbors, friends and family are facing hardship and heartache. A little kindness goes a long way.”
If you are interested, you can donate here.