A line of cars snaked all through the College Park Plaza Shopping Center's parking lot Tuesday morning as volunteers from a group of local businesses handed out care packages to public safety, health care and other frontline workers.

Organized by Flying Dog Brewery, the Roasthouse Pub and McCutcheon's Apple Products, and funded by the brewery's First Amendment Society nonprofit, the drive-thru "happy hour" promised to provide a hot meal and a six-pack of beer to everyone deemed a "frontline hero" with a job in public safety or the health care field among others, said Niko Negas, Roasthouse Pub's executive chef. The pub worked hard to cook up hundreds of hot meals to give away during the event, which began at 7 a.m. and lasted until 2 p.m., the "happy hour" giveaway proved much more popular than the businesses had expected.

"We actually prepared for 400 meals and we ended up getting about 450 meals, and we ran out in about three and a half hours," Negas said with a chuckle. "So we're now supplementing with some gift cards from some other local businesses, the 7th Street Cafe and sandwich shop here have donated some sandwiches, so it's really been amazing, the turnout has been amazing."

Frontline workers appreciated the gesture, as they shouted their thanks from their cars when they rolled by the tent, many of them on their way home from a work shift.

Donette Jones, 51, of Frederick, a registered nurse for both the Holy Cross Hospital and Kaiser Permanente, was out on a shopping trip earlier Tuesday when she learned about the "happy hour" event from relatives in a family group chat.

"They sent me a message saying they were giving all first responders a meal and beer, so I said, 'Hey, I'm out anyways, I'll go get it,'" Jones said. "I think it's a really nice gesture."

A Flying Dog truck dropped off even more beer for the tent workers to hand out shortly before noon while McCutcheon's tried to keep up with jars of apple butter for each vehicle, as well. Meanwhile, Ben Savage, the chief marketing officer for Flying Dog, ran back and forth from the tent to several other restaurants in the shopping center picking up gift cards and more meals.

The line continued to grow as Savage dropped off a stack of pizzas donated by nearby Rosati's Pizza, prompting the volunteers under the tent to break out stacks of paper plates to divide up the food. 

"We've been working on this for a few weeks now. We have a lot of great partners in the community and we all wanted to get together and do something really meaningful for the frontline heroes," Savage said, taking a quick breather. "We all really appreciate what they're doing for everyone else on the front lines and we thought we could just ... pull everybody together and see if we can't do something to show our appreciation for what they're doing."

While a second pick-up time had been announced from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the tent in an effort to provide food and beer for any workers who couldn't make the morning and early afternoon hours, Savage said the group had to cut those hours back to between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. because they weren't positive they'd be able to keep up with the demand. 

Jeff Felter, 23, a firefighter/EMT with the Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Service, stopped by the event along with his girlfriend, 21-year-old Darian Low, who is a certified nursing assistant at the WellSpan York Hospital in York County, Pennsylvania. While working in such close proximity to people who have either contracted the virus or those who suspect they might be infected is tough, the couple said they were happy to be able to help.

Felter, who works out of Station 2 on North Market Street, has only been with the fire service for about eight months but the scale and the seriousness of the pandemic is new to everyone.

"It's definitely been different, a bunch of the guys who have a lot more time on the job have said it's like nothing they've ever really dealt with before," Felter said. "But the department's been doing a great job of keeping us safe and making sure everyone goes home safe."

Both Felter and Low agreed that acts of kindness and support like the "happy hour" event send a very supportive message that the community has their backs, which is comforting and heartwarming.

"It's a rewarding job as it is, and then to know that the community is behind you like that makes it that much better," Felter said.

Follow Jeremy Arias on Twitter: @Jarias_Prime

Jeremy Arias is the Frederick city and government reporter for The Frederick News-Post.

(18) comments

MRS M

I'm sure this beautiful effort brought many smiles and much happiness to the front-line workers in their cars yesterday. It must have felt so wonderful to have their work, with all the stress and worry which that entails, recognized and appreciated. And maybe put to the side for just a short while. This community of caring businesses and the people who assisted them have our sincere admiration and kudos, today and in the days ahead.

gary4books

Let the "grumps" be themselves. We can appreciate good deeds. If that is boring, i like it.

Joeseamhead

I am stunned and disappointed to read any negativity to this article. What is wrong with some of you? Niko from the Roasthouse Pub is taking a huge financial hit from this shutdown, yet he, his workers and a healthy bunch of others still donated their resources, time and love. You people minimizing their efforts to show some appreciation for the people trying to save lives should be ashamed of yourselves! I will go out of my way to buy my family’s dinner from them this weekend.

francesca_easa

Great comment Jose. You are absolutely right.

jwhamann

Well, it's the same stuff everyday only it's a different time, different place, different people. That's boring. They need to find different angles. And, by the way, would you trust a police officer, doctor and other 'front liners' drinking beer?

gabrielshorn2013

Sure, why not, if they're off duty and at home.

jwhamann

...and on call.

jsklinelga

The comments do not seem appropriate for such a good cause. I was nervous going to the grocery store and I see folks in the "high risk" age group[ working. Thanks to everyone and GREAT JOB!! FOLKS.

vodalone

Social distancing and other measures being put into place are obviously not working, this virus is spreading regardless. It's been over 6 weeks, might be time for a different approach.

Alice Jones

head down to 1600, genius, and share your ideas.

vodalone

The way things are going is not sustainable until a vaccine is found which is 18 months or longer. There is a middle ground between cowering in fetal position in your basement which sounds like what you're doing, and going back to living normally like before the pandemic. We've become so polarized, everyone is forced to pick a side on literally EVERYTHING when the middle path is the correct situation in almost every situation.

jwhamann

Gawd this paper’s getting boring...

Alice Jones

because they share stories about people actually helping other people and that offends your delicate sensibilities?

Reader1954

if people wear masks then let the businesses open. I don't hear about the brave grocery workers being all coming down with the virus and they have been there from the beginning.

Alice Jones

then you are not paying attention, 54.

awteam2000

Maybe you should “google” ‘brave grocery workers’.

DeplorableLocalVeteran

Socialism is stating to appeal to the masses

Lev928

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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