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Actress and Spokane native Sydney Sweeney’s program kicks off its plan for 2,400 meals

UPDATED: Sat., Jan. 23, 2021

Full-time cook James Agloinga carries a food box to a vehicle Tuesday during a meal distribution for the Extend the Love project outside of the Women & Children’s Free Restaurant & Community Kitchen.  (Libby Kamrowski/ THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Full-time cook James Agloinga carries a food box to a vehicle Tuesday during a meal distribution for the Extend the Love project outside of the Women & Children’s Free Restaurant & Community Kitchen. (Libby Kamrowski/ THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Alexander Prevost For The Spokesman-Review

Fresh, restaurant-cooked meals made their way to the Women & Children’s Free Restaurant and Community Kitchen as the “Extend the Love” initiative started by Spokane native and actress Sydney Sweeney began last week.

“This is a local event for our local selves,” said The Globe Bar and Grill’s General Manager Mike Calderon.

The initiative came to life when Sweeney, who stars in HBO’s “Euphoria,” donated $12,000 to the community for her 12 Days of Christmas project, which provided funding for 12 Spokane restaurants to donate food to 12 homeless shelters.

Following this, the LifeWise Health Plan of Washington, Washington Trust Bank and Spokane County matched her donation. The $36,000 raised began “Extend the Love,” with the goal of helping serve meals by funding local restaurants that have struggled through the pandemic.

The project began last week and will run a six-week course, ending mid-February.

“This is our third time serving food for those in need, and every time we do so we feel grateful,” Calderon said.

The Globe, Charley’s Grill & Spirits and O’Doherty’s Irish Grille are some of the restaurants participating in the initiative.

Each establishment will receive $1,000 to make 67 meals. On average, at least 400 meals will make their way to the Women & Children’s Free Restaurant each week. The initiative is expected to pay for 2,400 meals by the time it ends.

“We’re going to be in the mode of giving as many meals as possible to other community members over the course of the next couple of months,” said Lisa Diffley, the Women & Children’s Free Restaurant executive director.

Donations from the other organizations and Sweeney inspired a community member to donate another $12,000 to the Free Restaurant anonymously, Diffley said.

Reflecting on the outcome of the project, Tim O’Doherty, who owns O’Doherty’s Irish Grille, believes this reaffirms the goodness of humans across the world.

“It’s not the first time, nor will it be the last, that someone on their own accord reaches into their pocket and helps out another in need,” O’Doherty said.

“Extend the Love,” is a collaboration between Spokane County, City of Spokane, US Foods, Visit Spokane, Washington Hospitality Association and Sweeney. While it is no longer accepting donations, Spokane residents can help out by contributing to the Women & Children’s Free Restaurant.

“This is a great example of what Spokane is,” Diffley said. “Even though we have a larger population, we still have that small-town feel in the connection we have. This community rises up to lift up others.”

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