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Eight4Nine Restaurant & Lounge offers up Good Deed Friday to help front-line workers

The Desert Sun (Palm Springs) logo The Desert Sun (Palm Springs) 5/15/2020 Carole Stephen-Smith, Special to The Desert Sun
a group of people riding on the back of a truck: Eight4Nine staff, including Albert Gonzalez, Willie Rhine, Ricardo Nava, Elena Vargas, Sandi Rosario, Israel Jiminez, John Paschal and Isaad Corona have delivered more than 1,400 lunches since the inaugural Good Deed Friday. © Courtesy Eight4Nine Eight4Nine staff, including Albert Gonzalez, Willie Rhine, Ricardo Nava, Elena Vargas, Sandi Rosario, Israel Jiminez, John Paschal and Isaad Corona have delivered more than 1,400 lunches since the inaugural Good Deed Friday.

Eight4Nine customers Art Williams and Gene Leone were chatting with Willie Rhine, the eatery's co-owner, trying to find a win-win situation that would help the restaurant during shelter-in-place while also serving as a thank you to the heroic doctors and health care workers on the front lines of COVID-19.

After some thought, Good Deed Friday was born — appropriately enough, on Good Friday. Rhine came up with the idea to serve boxed lunches, and then he and business partner John Paschal personally delivered more than 120 meals to Desert AIDS Project and all of the Eisenhower Health Urgent Care facilities in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage and La Quinta.

Within the care package was a selection of wraps containing roast beef, chicken or veggies or a turkey sandwich, accompanied by potato salad, a fresh apple and house-made chocolate chip cookies by pastry chef and cake designer Albert Gonzalez.

While the initial batch of lunches was funded by Williams and Leone, news of the project began to spread, and before long more generous people had reached out to contribute, inspiring the hashtag #PeopleHelpingPeople on Eight4Nine's Facebook page.

Soon, the emergency rooms at Desert Regional Medical Center and JFK Memorial were added to the weekly distribution list, as were two VIP Urgent Care facilities. When a contributor suggested they also take care of the Palm Springs Police Department, Rhine delivered 50 lunches as a show of appreciation for this group of essential workers. Before long, Good Deed Friday began branching out to other days of the week.

Eight4Nine employee Ricardo Nava loads up the truck with lunches to be delivered. © Courtesy Eight4Nine Eight4Nine employee Ricardo Nava loads up the truck with lunches to be delivered.

To date, nearly 1,400 lunches have been served to the local heroes who take care of us.

When asked why it's important to help others, Rhine said: "I grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland, where life was tough and the weather was awful, but neighbors looked out for each other and still do. The country may have changed, but neighbors are neighbors worldwide. However long this takes, I want to support those who help others."

Good Deed Friday now has nearly 100 supporters on the list of #PeopleHelpingPeople on Eight4Nine's Facebook page. To donate, contact Rhine at (760) 808-1077 or willie@eight4nine.com.

Carole Stephen-Smith has lived in the desert for more than 30 years. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, she began writing in London and has been a regular contributor to The Desert Sun for five years.

This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Eight4Nine Restaurant & Lounge offers up Good Deed Friday to help front-line workers

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