The D.C. gay bar Nellie’s Sports Bar has delivered at least 1,000 free meals to local D.C. frontline workers involved in responding to the COVID pandemic through donations from supporters since late March and early April, according Nellie’s owner Douglas Schantz.
But Schantz says he was scrambling this week to prepare one of his largest single delivery orders on Christmas Day after receiving a $3,000 purchase of 300 meals at the $10 per meal price he established as a means of financing what he has called Nellie’s Heroes Lunches program.
The purchase was made by an individual who Schantz prefers not to identify who is supportive of the free meals programs for frontline workers dealing with COVID that have been forming throughout the country.
As of late Monday, Schantz said he was finalizing a list of recipients for the Christmas meals that would include a mix of hospitals, fire stations, LGBTQ charitable organizations, and homeless shelters.
“I’m going to send them to six different places,” he said. “I’m here for Christmas Day because I’m not traveling this year. So, I said what a neat thing to do during Christmas. So that’s what I’m going to be doing – dropping off meals.”
The D.C. LGBTQ sports association Team D.C. recently joined forces with Nellie’s as an active participant in raising money to purchase meals and to help Nellie’s deliver them. Brent Minor, Team D.C.’s executive director, said Team D.C.’s first two joint delivery outings with Nellie’s included a delivery earlier this month of 30 meals to the nighttime nursing staff at Washington Hospital Center’s Cardiac Unit.
Minor said Team D.C. lined up donors from its member sports clubs to pay for a delivery in November to workers at the D.C. Board of Elections following the Nov. 2 election.
“It was kind of a recognition of the extra work all of them went through during the election and all that craziness,” Minor said.
Schantz said all the meals that are delivered are prepared at Nellies by his kitchen staff at a time when the city’s COVID restrictions have resulted in a major drop in business for Nellie’s and other bars and restaurants throughout the city.
He said people who have arranged for the purchase of meals for delivery sometime designate who the recipients should be while others leave it up to Schantz to pick the recipient or recipient organization or institution such as a hospital or frontline city workers.
“I just received a sponsorship from someone from Los Angeles,” he said. “So, they’re coming from all over the place, which is very encouraging. It’s just a nice thing to know that people want to give back.”
Minor said Team D.C. has already lined up some of its member clubs to donate between $300 to $400 for a meal delivery in January.
“What we do is we ask teams to donate $50 and then we combine donations from different clubs to equal one month of a delivery, however many meals we can source out of that,” he said. “This is just our way to engage the sports clubs in a way that is practical and recognizes the nature of working together for this cause.”
The Team D.C. website shows there are at least 34 teams, sports clubs, or sports leagues affiliated with Team D.C. that include sports ranging from baseball and bowling to kickball and tennis.
Earlier this year the tech giant Amazon hired the Arlington, Va. gay restaurant and bar Freddie’s Beach Bar to prepare and deliver 10,000 meals for frontline healthcare workers and first responders in Arlington and nearby Alexandria who were dealing with the COVID epidemic.
Schantz said anyone interested in becoming a sponsor for the Nellie’s Heroes Lunches delivery program can do so online at email@example.com.
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