It all started with a cup of coffee. And Facebook. In 2014, Larkin Garbee of 804RVA ran across the Suspended Coffee movement.
The previous year, founder James Sweeney, a native of Cork, Ireland, created a Facebook page to encourage people to buy a second cup of coffee during their daily coffee-shop stop for someone in need. He contacted a few local cafes in Cork to participate and the response was overwhelming. The page has amassed nearly 300,000 followers from around the world.
Garbee thought it would be a great idea to do the same thing here on Valentine’s Day, and after the positive response on social media, she and RVA Coffee Love organizers Ashley Ray, Sarah Choi, Patience Salgado, Sarah Milston, Marc Cheatham, Doug Orleski, Sam Davies and Kelly Vance decided to expand the idea the following year.
The coffee event transformed into RVA Pancake Love. Garbee posted a call for volunteers on Facebook, and on Feb. 14, 2015, a group of artists were at the Broadberry cranking out pancakes adorned with skulls, Darth Vader, robots and even Mr. T. The group raised $2,000 to donate to FeedMore.
For 2016, things are going to be a little different. The event will still be held on Valentine’s Day, but the renamed RVA Biscuit Love is a pop-up brunch for the homeless and hungry, Ashley Ray says.
“Larkin, Sarah [Choi] and I took the leftover pancakes and bananas to Monroe Park to hand out to the homeless there,” she says. “I think if you asked the three of us what the best part of the day was we would all say that part. It was the most rewarding.”
The group will return to Monroe Park to offer biscuits and gravy provided by the Camel, Early Bird Biscuit Co., Ms. Girlees, Pasture, Saison and Talley’s Meat & Three.
Diners will be seated and served. After their meals, they can pick up Valentine cards, along with Candy Valley Co. cake pops, care packages full of toiletries and a selection of winter clothes to take with them.
RVA Biscuit Love has about 80 volunteers on board, but the group still needs help with tables and chairs — both delivery and pick up. If you’d like to help, you can visit rvabiscuitlove.strikingly.com to sign up, and you can check out the Facebook page at facebook.com/rvavdaylove.
“We don’t want to just set up shop and start handing out biscuits,” Ray says. “We want it to be an experience.”