Before sitting down to enjoy a dinner of salad, hot dogs and chicken noodle soup Monday evening, Wesley Moore Jr. made sure he got a picture with a baseball jersey-wearing cow in the cafeteria.
This wasn’t your average bovine - it was the Chick-fil-A mascot, who was there with other restaurant employees to serve dinner to those at the Salvation Army.
For nearly 13 years, Chick-fil-A restaurants in Tyler have participated in an annual soup drive benefiting the local branch of The Salvation Army, said Barb Carter, who handles marketing for the fast-food chain’s Troup Highway location.
This year, for every bowl of soup purchased, the Broadway Crossing and Troup Highway locations donated two bowls of soup to The Salvation Army.
“The neat thing at both locations was how many of the customers saw what we were doing, and they wouldn’t just buy one - they’d buy two or three and not even eat it and give it back,” said Jeff Johnston, owner and operator of the Broadway Crossing location.
“The community has been incredible with the response, and that’s what makes it fun,” Carter said.
The drive, which ran through the first two weeks of February, raised 5,116 bowls of soup for the Salvation Army.
“(The donations) help keep our doors open,” said Lindsey Galabeas, community and public relations coordinator at The Salvation Army. “It’s less food we have to purchase out of donations, and it allows us to use the money to keep utilities on and keep the doors of the Center of Hope Shelter open.”
Johnston, who is a member of the board at the Salvation Army, wanted to take their service to the organization one step further by coming in person to serve the meals. He, Troup Highway Chick-fil-A owner and operator Ikey Eason and a few employees from each location handed out plates full of warm food.
“I’m happy to be out here, because it gives our team the opportunity to serve others outside of the restaurant,” Johnston said. “Food is a common need, so when you serve food, you’re serving their needs.”
Moore Jr., who visits the Salvation Army daily to eat, said he thanks God for the place.
“In this world we live in today, they’re trying to be a beacon of hope in the lives of those who don’t have anything,” he said.
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