As an Ashburn resident of nearly two decades, Vince Carbone—the owner of the Subway in Ashburn Farm Market Center—has always considered the local community to be an important part of everyday life. From donating sandwiches to youth sports leagues to partnering with small businesses for advertising opportunities, he’s done his part to support others.
And, when COVID-19 completely uprooted his business, the Ashburn community came to Carbone’s aid, initially making donations to help him and his family stay afloat. But, as the virus continued to spread, Carbone decided to transfer the support he was receiving to a bigger cause: feeding local health care workers, policemen, firefighters and other individuals risking their lives on the front lines of the global pandemic.
“When this first hit in March, the initial reaction was, ‘What am I going to do, this is my only income,’” says Carbone, who was forced to close Subway after realizing home delivery was not a feasible option to keep the doors open. “People came out of the woodwork with checks and donations. And I just felt if people were going to donate money, I had to put it toward something that mattered. I wasn’t going to just become a charity case, I didn’t want that.”
After a little research and a few calls to the right people, Carbone was able to get through to local hospitals and build partnerships, ultimately creating the Northern Virginia Adopt a Nurse or Doctor campaign. Since its inception in late March, the campaign has raised nearly $30,000 worth of Subway meals, and has gained a following of over 700 individuals on Facebook.
One woman in particular, Melanie Kelly, was one of the first donors to come forward and support Carbone’s campaign, asking neighbors, friends and family members alike to take part. According to Carbone, Kelly has since become like a business partner for this project, acting as the contact between hospitals and other organizations to plan drop-offs, simply “from the goodness of her heart.”
Carbone and his team, many of which he was initially able to rehire due to donations, have made and delivered sandwiches daily to places like INOVA Health System, McLean Fire Department, HealthWorks for Northern Virginia and many more.
“It just snowballed and started getting bigger and bigger,” says Carbone, who already has plans on the calendar to deliver 100 meals a day through the rest of May. “We branched out to nursing homes too. We’re trying to help whoever we can.”
At the start of May, Carbone has plans to install plexiglass at his Subway storefront and reopen to local customers, while keeping up with social distancing guidelines. And, while opening the restaurant is a step toward normalcy for Carbone, the Northern Virginia Adopt a Nurse or Doctor campaign will continue to be his main priority for the time being.
“You know, with everything going on it [the campaign] changes your attitude,” explains Carbone. “There’s been nothing but negative and bad news around us and when you see these heroes opening our meals, you know this is what it’s all about. Things will eventually get back to normal and I’ll make money but right now, helping other people is what we need to do. I’m only making sandwiches, that’s it. It’s not brain surgery. But by doing this and seeing the result … I feel blessed to be in this position.”
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