Chick-fil-A is known for a few things: delicious fried chicken, not opening on the Lord’s day, and opposing homosexual marriage. In fact, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio blasted the chain restaurant as “anti-gay” in calling for a boycott last month. But the local affiliate in Orlando opened its doors last Sunday, and not to make a profit.
On Sunday June 12, the day of the mass shooting at Pulse night club in Orlando, FL, the local Chick-fil-A at University Boulevard and Rouse Road fired up the grill. Employees cooked up hundreds of fried chicken sandwiches, brewed dozens of gallons of sweet tea, and gave it all away. For free.
Chick-fil-A gave away hundreds of sandwiches to the OneBlood donation center, where an unprecedented amount of people gave blood, in a show of solidarity with victims of the shooting.
“I’ve been here 13 years and never seen a response like this,” OneBlood spokesman Pat Michaels told the Orlando Sentinel. Donation centers have filled to capacity and started turning donors away. “The sentiment is understood and appreciated, but it’s a little too much, too soon.”
While donors waited to give blood, Chick-fil-A employees handed out food and drinks, free of charge.
The Pulse is a gay night club, and the majority of victims of the shooting were gay, but that does not seem to bother the alleged gay haters at Chick-fil-A.
Next Page: What made LGBT activists think Chick-fil-A was engaged in #Chick-Fil-hAte?
Indeed, liberal groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and LGBT groups like Campus Pride have attacked Chick-fil-A for its donations to organizations such as Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. The social media hashtag #ChickFilhAte exists to promote the idea that the restaurant chain supports homophobia.
The efforts against the chain started in June of 2012, when President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Dan Cathy made critical comments of gay marriage, standing up for the biblical definition of wedlock.
Although various organizations attacked the restaurant chain, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee called for a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day on August 1, 2012. On that day, average restaurant sales increased by 29.9 percent and each location had an average of 367 more customers than usual.
When Chick-fil-A announced it would expand in New York City last month, Mayor Bill deBlasio called for a boycott of the restaurant chain in The Big Apple. His boycott also backfired, as the NYC locations reported good business the week after his statement.
The local restaurant’s show of solidarity with the victims of this attack on a gay bar shows that the owners care more about compassion than about the lifestyle choice of those targeted in such a senseless attack. The organization dedicated time and resources to volunteer their aid in a show of support, regardless of the politics involved.
Indeed, the location on Wells Road in Orange Park is even now offering coupons for a free frosted lemonade to anyone who donates blood when the OneBlood mobile unit is at the store on Tuesday, June 14.
While Chick-fil-A became especially notorious for its appeal to social conservatives, it seems the Christian Right is not alone in its taste for fried chicken. With this unprecedented step of solidarity, the restaurant chain seems to have transcended politics. Let’s hope the Southern Poverty Law Center is paying attention.