LUMBERTON — The owner and operator of the Lumberton area Chick-fil-A says he is not only in business to provide good food, but he wants his restaurant to contribute to the community
In keeping with that spirit, Mark Morse took to his business’ Facebook page on Monday night to ask the more than 6,000 online followers to bring new or gently used blankets or coats to the Jackson Court Chick-fil-A location during normal business hours in exchange for a free entrée sandwich.
In fewer than 36 hours, Morse collected more than 150 donations with more pouring in every hour. The drive will conclude at the end of the month, when the donated items will be divided up and given to as-yet-unannounced local charities.
“As a person I am motivated by my faith and my faith happens to be Christianity, and one of the things that the Scripture does is tell us to be compassionate,” Morse said. “We try to do things in the community like ‘mother-and-son date night,’ but with the current cold snap, I felt that there was something more that we could do.”
Since opening the franchise in August 2012 with a charity drive in honor of fallen Lumberton police Officer Jeremiah M. Goodson, Morse said that he has made it part of the business’s overall mission to do whatever it can to give back to the community.
“I was never dirt poor but, there were two years of my life when I literally didn’t have a bed to sleep on. I slept on the floor with my dad after my parents separated …,” Morse said. “Now here I am 25 years later. I think it would be foolish for anyone who has worked hard and succeeded to not turn around and make an impact on those you now have an opportunity to make an impact on.”
Morse’s altruistic spirit has inspired customers to come in and donate, some without even accepting the offer of a free meal.
“It is just good for people to take their time to help those homeless who are in so much need and so cold this winter,” said Beverly Lewis, who along with her friend Pamela Hans, had arrived Thursday morning with bags of blankets and coats to donate. Both voiced interest in returning with more donations before the end of the month.
The Chick-fil-A corporation was founded in 1946 in Atlanta, specializing in chicken sandwiches, and has since spawned more than 1,700 locations throughout the United States.
The company’s franchise owners has been strongly influenced by the Southern Baptist beliefs of its CEO, S. Truett Cathy.
Though the franchise maintains a conservative Christian culture, even maintaining that all franchise locations must remain closed on Sundays, the decision to give up profits in the name of helping the community is a personal one for Morse.
“I love working here. It has just been amazing to work under a great boss and a business [that] tries to do as much as we can for the community,” said Rosie Arita, a general manager for the location. She is among 15 other employees who Morse believes are given a greater sense of purpose by being involved with a business that gives back to its community.
“We are among the poorest communities in North Carolina, possibly the United States and a lot of the people we are going to be giving these coats to can’t even afford a chicken sandwich, much-less warm clothing,” Morse said. “I don’t care if you’re a Christian, not a Christian, whatever, what is important to understand is that this is bigger than you.”