Angela Reinhardt / Photo
For the past three years, Speed Burger customers may have noticed a jar at the counter where the restaurant collects tips to support Pickens charities. There is also one at the drive thru.
Charity-efforts usually ramp up around the holidays when people are more inclined to donate to a food drive, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or sit with the elderly at a nursing home - but Speed Burger owners Cindy and Billy Heath have made year-round giving a habit.
For the last several years, customers of the East Church Street restaurant (which not too long ago celebrated its 50th anniversary) may have noticed the tip jars at the drive-thru window and on the inside counter. A piece of paper taped on the jars informs customers which local charity a portion of that month’s tips will support. For October and November, the Heaths always choose to sponsor a foster child for Christmas, but they have also donated to the Pickens Animal Shelter, the Pickens Senior
Center, Georgia Mountains Hospice, the Boys & Girls Club, the Weekend Snack Program, and many other local organizations and non-profits. They keep a list of charities they have supported right beside the tip jar.
“A few years back we started seeing that restaurants had tip jars, and we decided if we were going to do something like that we wanted to support the community and local charities, too,” said Cindy. “It’s amazing how much you can collect in just change – and we just had two people give $20. It kind of depends on the charity because some draw more donations, but usually the portion of tips will be about $100 to $125 a month.”
The Heaths also match the tip donation, which means $100 in tips equals a $200 donation to the charity of the month. For the foster program, they purchase Christmas gifts for the kids, but most charities get cash.
“It’s nice to have cash,” she said, adding that many of the charities are government funded and that cash is often a welcome change to restricted-government funding.
Heath said not only do her employees share their tips, sometimes they make donations to the charity of the month for other needs. For the foster children, employees will often purchase less-expensive items on their Christmas list, or will buy cat or dog food for the shelter.
“It’s something we enjoy doing,” she said. “I guess it’s our little way of trying to give back.”