Workers at a Chick-fil-A establishment in Orlando, Florida, forewent the eatery's tradition of taking a day of rest on Sunday, and instead handed out free sandwiches and iced tea for people waiting to donate blood in the wake of the shooting at Pulse, a popular gay nightclub.
The shooting left 49 dead and 53 wounded, and was the worst mass shooting in US history, as well as the worst targeted mass killing of LGBT people in the West — specifically queer and trans Black and Latina people — since the Holocaust.
Famously, Chick-fil-A remains closed on Sundays; additionally, the chain has a long history of opposing gay rights. Think Progress reports that since 2003 Chick-fil-A has donated at least $5 million to anti-gay organizations, including hate groups and proponents of ex-gay therapy. The company has a 0 rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, and Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy and CEO Dan Cathy have both made discriminatory remarks about the gay community.
However, its controversial past didn’t stop the restaurant from coming to its community’s aid.
“Our restaurant, along with a couple of others in the area, simply responded just like numerous other Orlando businesses and residents have done -- we came together as a community to lift those in need,” reads a Facebook comment by Chick-fil-A of University Blvd at Road House.
A Chick-fil-A spokesperson told Eater: "I can confirm that while we have a corporate policy that firmly states we are closed for business on Sundays, there have been rare cases that move our local operators to respond with food donations to help communities in need. The events in Orlando stirred our local restaurant owners and their teams to band together to provide nourishment to first responders as well as volunteers who donated blood. We do not think this requires any recognition. It is the least we can do in this community we love.”
The restaurant concluded its post with the hashtag #prayfororlando.