By Douglas W. Motley
Who says there’s no free lunch? Obviously, they haven’t visited the Crestline Café since they began offering free meals to persons in need, no questions asked.
According to Manager Amber Crubaugh, there is an honor system in place. “There is no judgment here. All we ask is that the generosity of others is not abused or taken advantage of.”
On a “Helping Hands” community bulletin board inside the Lake Drive restaurant are pre-paid meal tickets good for $10 toward the meal of your choice. The meal tickets may be redeemed by anyone who is hungry, no matter whether they are a senior citizen on a fixed income or someone who is homeless and has no other way to feed themselves. After peeling a meal ticket from the bulletin board and being seated, all one must do is tell their server what they would like to order.
Ultimately, Crubaugh said, they would like to feed those who struggle to feed themselves or those who live on a fixed income and want to go out for a bite to eat but don’t have the money to do so.
Asked how this unique program can sustain itself without going broke, she told The Alpine Mountaineer the free meals are funded by the generosity of the community and anyone else who would like to participate.
When asked how the family restaurant came up with the free meal concept, Crubaugh said she believes the idea originated from a small restaurant in Louisiana. She said a video had been shared over social media and a friend had sent it to her back in August. “I absolutely loved the idea but, given the crazy year, it just wasn’t something we could do at the time,” she said, noting that a friend of hers had recently posted the same video on Facebook.
At this point, she excitedly called her boss, restaurant owner George Hoenig, and he was just as excited as she was. “I went down and bought some supplies, thought of a name, contacted my friend, John Hopkins, and he came by to kick off Helping Hands by purchasing 20 meal tickets, just by seeing our Facebook post.” Others contributing to the Helping Hands endowment include Michelle Peachie, Gilbert Acuna and Suze Bloomer.
Saying she’s had a huge response from the community, Crubaugh said even people from outside the community have come forward to purchase meal tickets after seeing the Facebook post. “So far, we have only used social media; in 24 hours, our post was shared over 80 times. I’m confident the word of mouth throughout our community will spread the news to those in need.
“This last year has been hard on us all,” she added. “We know there is never enough love and kindness to fill the world but, with the help of the amazing people in our community, we are overjoyed and blessed to provide a little help and happiness to anyone who may need it. Pay it forward, no matter how big or small. You may be the light that brightens someone’s day.”