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Will work for food: Chick-fil-A fans trade volunteer hours for year’s worth of meals

In:News
Mar 19, 2018

(Photo by Len Wood/Staff, Story by Mathew Burcaiga )
Posted in the Santa Maria Times – March 14, 2018
(To read original article  CLICK HERE)

On Wednesday morning, the Santa Maria Chick-fil-A — the second Santa Barbara County location for the national chicken chain — offered more than 50 people a year of meals in exchange for seven hours of community service.

While the rain and cold may have deterred some would-be participants, a small crowd of individuals from communities up and down the Central Coast turned out to register for the 6 a.m. project. During the course of their day, volunteers and Chick-fil-A staff visited three locations — the Boys and Girls Club, Central Coast Rescue Mission Super Thrift Store and Joe White Park — to assist in the organizations’ day-to-day operations and presented a “book house” filled with children’s books to the Santa Maria Valley YMCA.

“So much of Chick-fil-A’s model is local ownership,” said Joey Hickox, owner of the Santa Maria location in the Enos Ranch development and 28-year U.S. Air Force veteran. “Owners are supposed to be part of the community and actively involved in their store. We’re not just handing off the keys to a manager and playing golf; you’ll see me in this store every day.”

Lompoc resident Edward Ramirez waited overnight to be the first in line. Sisters Elyse and Lynneal Williams and Sean King, their friend, made the predawn drive from Santa Barbara to wait in the cold. Santa Maria resident Yolonda Staples already had the day off work, but chose to show up at the last minute.

Though all five were excited to earn free food for a year, they expressed even greater admiration and enthusiasm for giving back to the community.

“We want to do everything in turbo time today,” Lynneal Williams said early Wednesday morning. “We’re excited that service is part of the grand opening.”

“I thought this was such a good idea, being able to go into the community to help out and give back,” Staples said. “I’ve always liked Chick-fil-A but that made me like it even more.”

Just after 1 p.m., the group departed their chartered bus in front of the Central Coast Rescue Mission Super Thrift Store. Jon Bronkowski, mission program manager, immediately put the group to work sprucing up the planters, painting the guest bathroom and cleaning the store’s racks and shelves.

“This has really given us a head start,” Bronkowski said. “There are certain things we’ve been looking to do for months. Having 54 people show up at once lets us get to those things that will enhance the customer experience.”

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