SAVOY, Ill. (WCIA) — After hearing a story about a veteran who couldn’t afford food, Smokey’s House BBQ created a way for its customers to share the gift of generosity.
It’s called Pay It Forward. The restaurant’s former general manager started it a year-and-a-half ago and people haven’t stopped giving.
Dantrell McGee is the current general manager. He says, “There’s something about doing something for other people that just brings this feeling across that’s unexplainable.”
McGee doesn’t have to explain this form of generosity. It’s written on the wall of the restaurant.
McGee says, “The first general manager thought that was the perfect opportunity to say, ‘Hey, how can we help somebody out?'”
People can buy any meal they want and write it on a heart. When someone comes in who can’t afford food, they can claim a donated item.
McGee says, “They can choose whatever they want and we make the food. They can have a seat and just enjoy a nice meal.”
It was inspired by a customer who shared a story of a veteran who had no money for a meal.
Waitress Sierra Lipsey says, “When we first started doing this, we probably sold 50 things in the first week.”
Now more than 150 hearts have been redeemed. Lipsey remembers the first person she served with the program.
She says, “He actually cried and gave me a hug and said, ‘Thank you so much, I really appreciate everything you guys are doing for me.'”
It’s touched the employees’ hearts too.
McGee says, “It’s the genuine nice thing to do. I’ve always been taught when you take care of people, they’ll take care of you.”
The restaurant doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon. To be a part of it, you can buy anything from a soda or sides to a full meal.