Two Highland Park sisters have been using their time back home from college during the COVID-19 pandemic to help fundraise for small businesses and restaurants.
Their efforts came as state and local officials announced increasing restrictions on gatherings, closed non-essential businesses, and limited restaurants to drive-through, pickup, or delivery service to prevent the spread of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Annie Dodd, 21, a senior at the University of Virginia, and her sister, Grace, 19, a freshman at Texas A&M, started Dallas Helps and created a GoFund-Me page to raise money that they say they distribute to restaurant workers and small businesses. Annie said they’ve been hand-delivering money and doing Venmo transactions to the workers. They say they raised a little more than $23,000 and helped 11 different restaurants/bars amounting to more than 80 employees as of April 4. Businesses Annie said they helped include Bandito’s, Lucky’s Café, Chip’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers, and St. Pete’s Dancing Marlin, among others.
“Our main inspiration behind Dallas Helps was really the notion of making our infinite free time into something meaningful. We were bogged down by so much bad news and felt the best way to be productive in this time was to help others,” Annie said. “We hope that Dallas Helps can bring a little bit of hope to the community. It has meant so much to the recipients to know that someone out there is thinking of them and wants to help them in some way. It also has been somewhat of a relief to many local restaurant owners to know that community members out there are cheering on their businesses through this time.”
How did you guys choose your respective schools?
Annie: I chose (the University of Virginia) because I love the history behind the school and also knew going out of state would challenge both academically and on a personal level. Grace chose Texas A&M because our dad attended, and she loved the community and spirt on campus, while still being close to home.
What do you guys hope to do after university?
Annie: I am graduating in May and working for Capital One’s human resource program located in Washington, D.C. Grace is in the business honors program at A&M and hopes to do something in finance.
What’s a fun fact about you?
Annie: One of the first restaurants we helped was Lucky’s Cafe because it is our family’s very first stop when Grace and I both get home from school.
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