Darden Family Displays Big Hearts After Hurricanes

October 27, 2017

Trying times bring out the best in families, and Darden’s big family is no exception. After back-to-back Hurricanes Harvey and Irma devastated parts of Texas and Florida, the company and our 175,000 team members pitched in to support our team members and their communities.

Taking Care of Our Own

As of today, our signature employee giving program, Darden Dimes, and Cheddar’s Change had provided $1.6 million in emergency assistance to team members mostly in Texas and Florida — 3,800 grants for a total of $760,000 to team members affected by Hurricane Harvey, and 4,200 grants for a total of $840,000 to team members affected by Hurricane Irma.

To bolster the employee-funded program at a time of intense need, team members across all Darden brands and the Restaurant Support Center (RSC) in Orlando, FL, immediately began to raise money to replenish Darden Dimes:

  • About 8,800 employees newly enrolled in payroll contributions for Darden Dimes and many more increased their contributions.
  • About $62,000 was raised through one-time cash donations and checks ($3,000 of it came from a bake sale organized by the Legal team at the RSC).  
  • $46,000 was raised at the annual conference for general managers and managing partners at Yard House, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze and Eddie V’s.
  • About $6,400 was raised at the LongHorn Leadership Series.
  • $2,900 was raised for Darden Dimes through a raffle to win an Olive Garden Never Ending Pasta Pass at the RSC. In addition, more than 800 extra Pasta Passes were given to Olive Garden general managers to be given to first responders and guests affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

As a company with restaurants across the United States, Darden is committed to helping the communities that are home to our team members and guests when they need it most. That’s why the Darden Foundation donated $250,000 to the American Red Cross’s Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief fund because of the severe flooding caused by the storm.

That donation was in addition to the Darden Foundation’s annual grant of $500,000 to the Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program.

Providing Aid to Puerto Rico

Central Florida, home to the RSC, has one of the largest populations of Puerto Ricans outside of the island itself, and when Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico, its residents were not the only ones affected.

The Darden Foundation is helping with a $50,000 grant to the Heart of Florida United Way’s Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief fund to send solar-powered lights, water-filtration systems and solar-powered cell-phone chargers to Puerto Rico.

The events of the past few months — as difficult as they were for many — highlighted Darden’s culture of generosity and caring. Employee giving programs like Darden Dimes and Cheddar’s Change are critical at times like these and serve as strong examples of what makes our culture so special — team members giving each other a hand when they need it most.

No one said it better than Jason Mogg, vice president of finance for The Capital Grille and Eddie V’s, one of many who donated to Darden Dimes. “Humanity is more important than money. Giving people a reason to believe, when they need a reason the most, creates a better community for us all to live in. Darden Dimes provides that for our Darden family.”