“Share Thanksgiving” started as an idea by Chris Meaux, Waitr’s CEO and his committee, who wanted to give back to the communities they serve. 

For the second year in a row, Waitr, a carryout and delivery app started in 2015, will hold its “Share Thanksgiving” program to collect donations from customers and spread the holiday joy. For the first time, Athens is one of the cities participating in this program.

“Share Thanksgiving” began as an idea by Waitr’s CEO Chris Meaux and his committee, who wanted to give back to the communities they serve. These communities had treated them well and they felt that they should give something back in return.

“The people who actually run the local office, live in the city, know the area and work as drivers are employees of Waitr,” said Dean Turcol, Waitr’s PR director. “A lot of these delivery services are contractors.”

Since Waitr’s motto is “We deliver great food to great people," the company thought Thanksgiving — a time of generosity and kindness — was the perfect time to give food back to communities.

“I think it’s really going to have a positive impact on those families that are needy around the holiday season,” said Jerel Inge, Waitr’s Regional Marketing Manager. “That can be a depressing time for a lot of people, especially when you can’t get food on the table for your family.”

The campaign delivered food to 1,000 families last year. In accordance with the holiday spirit, the people who make the deliveries aren’t the regular drivers, but volunteers.

“We’re not using our drivers — the drivers aren’t actually getting paid,” Inge said. “It’s mostly corporate employees and drivers who volunteer to make the deliveries. No one is doing it for any type of financial gain.”

For Turcol, it ended up being much more than part of the job. He traveled to Waitr’s Lafayette office and said it was “the most rewarding experience” of his whole life.

“We, along with our CMO, delivered meals late into the night,” Turcol said. “We went up to these families and little kids came up and one of them said, and I’ll never forget it, ‘Wow, we’re gonna have a hot meal this Thanksgiving, Mom.’ It was such a great thing and that’s just one story of all the different stories that we’ve heard from our employees.”

Last year, 150 Waitr employees volunteered, but since the plan this year is to reach double the number of families, the company hopes that 300 Waitr employees will volunteer.

The goal is to keep expanding the number of families Waitr feeds.

“Last year, it was our first time going to a lot of these cities,” Turcol said. “We’re going back to them this year so now they know about it and they’re more enthusiastic about it. In our new cities, including Athens, we’re getting great reception so I think the sky’s the limit.”

In Athens this year, the goal is to reach at least 50 families in need. People in the local community nominate these families.

“We’ve only been [in Athens] for a few weeks now, but we’re already getting great feedback from our restaurants and customers, and it’s great we can give something back — with their help, of course,” Turcol said.