New organization in Riverside County brings community together while helping local restaurants

FLAG of Corona hopes to expand to include grocery workers in the community.
CORONA, Calif. (KABC) -- Dozens of sandwiches were being prepared for the dinner rush Saturday at Silver Dollar Pancake House in Corona. Owner Robert Hernandez and his staff were busy preparing the meals for healthcare workers at senior care centers and an ambulance company.

"This is really helping not only us, but it is helping the front line workers, and we just really want them to know we appreciate them because they're the ones getting out there every day and putting their lives on the lines to help people. So it's just a blessing and I feel like it's the community coming together as a whole," said Jennifer Antonopoulos with Silver Dollar Pancake House.

Across the way at Thai Lotus, the pad thai noodles were steamy hot. The boxed up meals were ready for special delivery to night shift workers at Corona Regional Medical Center.

Both restaurants have taken a significant hit due to COVID-19, but a new organization called Front Line Appreciation Group, or FLAG of Corona, is helping them recover some of those losses.

"Without them we'd probably... you won't see us in this frenzy. It is pretty awesome. It's like old times when we were busy before everything happened," said Darren Takenaga with Thai Lotus.

FLAG is helping to bring the community together to raise money to buy food from local restaurants and deliver them to healthcare workers.

Mary Barnett started the Corona chapter in the hopes of helping her community, and to bring a more positive association to her city, which shares its name with the virus.

"I thought, wow here is a great way to really celebrate what restaurants are doing and help them survive during the crisis, and then pay them to deliver food to people who are really going to work so we can stay home," said Barnett.

Each week, a new restaurant is chosen to make the Friday night meals. To-date, the organization has raised $8,000 and served nearly 900 meals, which come with handmade notes and signs from the community.

"They have not missed one week since COVID began, and our night-shift is so appreciative because they don't get the convenience that the day shift does. So hot meals and really the attention means the world to them," said Linda Pearson Corona Regional Medical Center.

FLAG of Corona hopes to expand to include grocery workers in the community. Anyone who would like to make a tax-deductible donation can text the word flag to 7-1-4-4-1.
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