On the weekend of October 3, devastating rains pummeled the Palmetto State. Columbia, South Carolina was especially hard hit – leaving thousands without power, nor the possibility of a hot meal. PCG Board Member Chef Luca Annunziata couldn’t take watching the tragic images on his television.
He messaged his fellow Board members with a simple statement. “There must be something we can do.”
The Board quickly gave the go-ahead and a post appeared that Monday afternoon on PCG members message board asking for volunteers and donations.
The response was overwhelming. Offers came from farmers, suppliers, chefs, and others with connections – everything from fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, herbs, water, beef – even a whole pig, not to mention various other supplies.
Tuesday morning – vans, trucks, and a food bus headed toward Columbia. Through the efforts of Passion8 Manager Tori Bagdoian, a destination site with a working kitchen was found: Seven Oaks Elementary Media Magnet School.
Volunteers and chefs began unpacking and cooking. PCG social media started spreading the word that a free hot meal was available that evening in Columbia to all who could come. The message was shared and retweeted – using the hashtag #PCGcares. The first meal was served at 7:30 that evening.
Then the real miracle happened
Others in Columbia and Charlotte started asking what they could do to help. Checks and cash was donated to help, donations poured in via PayPal, hotel rooms in Columbia were donated, more food was donated .. then more food.
On Wednesday, Lunch and dinner was not only served at Seven Oaks, but Chef Aaron Rivera loaded up his Chrome Toaster food bus and served lunch at City of Hope Worship Center and A.C. Flora High School . Food was also delivered to Lower Richland High School and other locations throughout Columbia.
Lunch and Dinner was served at Seven Oak through Saturday – under the direction of Chef Casey Griffin.
This could never have been done with the support of so many people and companies. You see them listed on the right.
Two quick stories of kindness
1) As the Charlotte chefs and volunteers were checking into their hotel that evening, Rick Ramsey a US Foods representative from Buffalo, NY, just happened to be in the lobby. He heard the hotel clerk thank the group for being in Columbia to help. Rick asked what was going on. He then asked for a needed supplies list. The next day, US foods came through – donating everything on the list!
2) Michaela was working as the bartender at the local Ruby Tuesday’s that Wednesday when the PCG crew came in for drinks after an 18-hour day. They told her why they were in town. The next day, Michaela shows up at Seven Oaks Elementary to volunteer!
So many stories that week. If you have one, please tell us in the comments below. We’d love to know them!
Thank You for the Food & Supplies
300 East – Ashley Boyd
The Asbury – Chris Coleman
Carolina Artisan Bread – William Logan
Chef’s Store – Columbia
Evoke / Sheraton Charlotte – Oscar LaFuente
The Farm @ Flat Creek – Joy Plasko
First Presbyterian Church Charlotte – Nick Kepp
Proffitt Farms – Shelley Eagan
Rooster’s – Zack Renner
Santé – Adam Reed
Small City Farm – Kim Shaw
Southern Foods – Pate Dawson (via Heidi Billotto)
Southminster – Phillip Platoni
Trader’s Joes – (via Dani Rowland)
US Foods – Rick Ramsey
Thank You for the Hotel Rooms
Harriet & Bill Wilson – Seven Oaks Elementary
Luca Annunziata – Passion8
Mark Powers – South Carolina Baptist Convention
Thank You for Cash Donations
Thank You Chefs
Casey Griffin – Passion8 (Tues – Sat)
Luca Annunziata – Passion8 (Tues/Wed/Sat)
Aaron Rivera – Chrome Toaster/Tapas 51 (Tues/Wed)
Greg Collier – The Yolk (Tues)
David Hunt (Tues)
Eric Miracle (Fri/Sat)
Thank You Seven Oaks Elementary
Harriet Wilson – Principal
Larry Payne – Facilities Mgr. (and facilities staff)
Todd Bendenbaugh – Director of Student Nutrition
Myra Smith – Student Nutrition Mgr. (and cafteria staff)
Susan Floyd – Teacher (volunteered Tues – Sat!)
Thank You Van Drivers
and Onsite Volunteers
Courtney Valvo (special thanks for the photos!)