Chicago restaurants help victims of Hurricane Maria


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Several Chicago bakeries, cafes and restaurants held donation drives and gave to victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Roeser’s Bakery, Saigon Sisters, and Metropolis Coffee Company engaged customers and their businesses in order to give back to the Puerto Rican community that was greatly affected by this natural disaster. From donating food, first aid, and toiletries to raising money for those in need these Chicago-based establishments used their leverage to help.

Oldest family-owned bakery gives back

The Humboldt Park based Roeser’s Bakery is Chicago’s oldest family owned bakery.

Roeser’s Bakery also gives back to the very communities that have kept them in business for years. This past September 28, on National Bakery Day, Roeser’s Bakery gave 100% of custom cookie sales to victims of Hurricane Maria.

“We actually also donated to the National Mexican Museum for those affected by the earthquakes near the same time that Hurricane Maria happened,” said John Roeser, owner of Roeser’s Bakery. “We have a very large Hispanic following, both Puerto Rican and Mexican, as well as Central American and other Hispanic cultures so we wanted to help give back to those who may have loved ones that have been affected by this devastation and help support them.”

Roeser’s Bakery held special raffles and giveaways that day, raising $900 from customer sales but adding $100 on their own to make it $1,000.

“Each customer that came in got a funfetti donut,” said Roeser. “They also entered a raffle for a chance to win one of four prizes.”

Roeser said that giving back is a very important thing for him, but also for business in general.

“We like to support the people that support us, and in doing that we make a good name for both our business and the community along with the City of Chicago.”

Vietnamese staple donates proceeds for World Food Day

Saigon Sisters is a modern Vietnamese restaurant that puts a twist on classic meals. Saigon Sisters are joining other restaurants across America for the World Food Day fundraiser on October 13 by giving 10% of their food proceeds to Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico.

“We were invited by World Central Kitchen to participate in this program to help a much needed cause,” said Mary Nguyen Aregoni, who started Saigon Sisters in 2009 with her sister Theresa Nguyen and her mother Mama Suu. “There are so many people affected by natural disasters that we want to help in any way we can.”

World Central Kitchen is a nonprofit organization created by chefs to combat hunger and poverty. They encouraged several national restaurants to donate proceeds this year, including Chicago restaurants Girl and the Goat, Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, and Floriole Cafe & Bakery.

Saigon Sisters also does several charity events and hosts charity organizations throughout the year.

“We do several charity events where we donate food, our time, and items to raise money for groups that help children and women like Holiday Heroes and Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network,” explained Nguyen Aregoni. “We also host organizations like Asian Americans Advancing Justice and The Chicago Community Trust at our restaurants supporting their mission and causes. We also volunteer our time at the Boys and Girls Club giving cooking classes for the students’ after school program.”

Indie cafe collects donations to aid hurricane victims

Metropolis Coffee Company is an independent coffee roaster that takes pride in giving back.

Metropolis Coffee Company teamed up with Casa Puertorriqueña, a nonprofit Puerto Rican Parade Committee, and Little Sun, a social enterprise that produces solar powered LED lamps, to aid victims of Hurricane Maria.

Tony Dreyfuss, co-owner of Metropolis Coffee Company, first saw a call to action from Casa Puertorriqueña on Facebook as a shared message, and after re-broadcasting it as a PSA to the thousands of Metropolis followers was overwhelmed with donations and responses.

“We’ve built community involvement into our mission as a core principal,” said Dreyfuss. “Though we don’t have a market in Puerto Rico and we don’t buy Puerto Rican coffee at this time, we do work in Chicago, and Chicago is touched by our coffee, thus we were aware of a direct need that was called out by Casa Puertorriqueña, a Chicago organization. We had space for collection and storage, delivery trucks, and more. We could help amplify the call to action. Everyone was in agreement that it was very important and that we would make it a priority.”

The company got a Facebook message from a Metropolis follower speaking on the issue of light and power to charge phones. He advised Dreyfuss that the organization Little Sun provided low cost solar powered lamps and chargers that they donate one every time a customer buys one.

Dreyfuss connected Little Sun and Casa Puertorriqueña, where together they set up a fundraiser to help Puerto Rico’s communities that are in urgent need of light and energy.

Metropolis Coffee Company also helps a slew of Chicago-based nonprofits in a variety of ways.

“We have a partnership with Aspire of Illinois and their partner, Canteen. We donate to Inspiration Corporation, coffee boxes to 100+ silent auctions each year, and all of our leftover coffee to homeless shelters, firehouses, and other charities,” explained Roeser.

“We do our best to be involved because it’s important and it’s in our very DNA.”



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