Beliefnet

After the tragedy of the Orlando nightclub shooting that took the lives of 49 people and injured over 50 others, businesses are stepping up to help out Orlando residents.

Chick-fil-A, which has been criticized in the past for its commitment to traditional marriage, opened its doors on Sunday to bring free chicken sandwiches and iced tea to Orlando residents at the One Blood donation center. Despite the chain-restaurant typically being closed on Sundays, workers came in to help those who were waiting in line for hours to donate blood to the victims of the shooting.

"When you're in the midst of a tragedy, you just go where you're told you are needed," the restaurant's area marketing director, Cindy Coffman, told Independent Journal Review.

Several Chick-fil-A restaurant franchises opened their doors as the day went on. A second location at Lee Vista posted photos on Facebook of employees delivering free food to another blood drive.

“A few members of our awesome team decided to go into work on a Sunday and make some food for people waiting in line to donate blood,” the store said in a post. “We love our city and love the people in our community. #prayfororlando.”

A third franchise opened up on Orange Avenue, partnering with several other Chick-fil-A restaurants to help the first responder teams.

“This morning we joined up with other local Chick-fil-A’s to donate Chicken biscuits and Orange juice to the police, first responders, and firemen who have been hard at work,” the store said in a Facebook post Monday. “We are proud to be part of a community that is #‎orlandostrong‬!”

The company has been closed on Sundays since 1946 for “practical and spiritual reasons” and typically never breaks the protocol. While Chick-fil-A has not released a statement on this particular gesture, a spokeswoman told The Huffington Post there are exceptions to their Sunday policy.

“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 spokeswomen stated.

The Christian company had been under fire and even led political leaders to encourage a boycott of the restaurant for its “anti-gay” stance. Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy made several comments back in 2012 that showed his strong support for the traditional family lifestyle. In the past, the company has made large donations to anti-gay groups.

Pulse nightclub where the shooting took place was a widely known gay bar in Orlando, leaving the LGBT community thankful for the act of kindness by Chick-fil-A despite their differences in opinion.

“…while the founders definitely don’t approve of that choice of lifestyle, they believe in compassion,” Vianna Vaughan at the DC Gazette said.

The compassion and generosity of the company is inspiring individuals and organizations alike to help out in whatever way they can. The thoughtful acts of kindness are helping to bring the community together during a time of great sorrow and tragedy.

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