Some of the city’s best biscuit makers and over 80 volunteers will descend upon Monroe Park to provide a unique Valentine’s Day experience to some of the city’s hungry February 14th.
The moment the organizers realized that their efforts could take a more direct path.
An event that started with a simple idea and a cup of coffee–and would take on several forms over the next couple of years–takes a message of kindness directly to those who need it most this Valentine’s Day.
In 2014, RVA Coffee Love-an effort put together by Larkin Garbee, Sarah Choi, Patience Salgado, Marc Cheatham, Doug Orleski, Sam Davies, Sarah Milston, and Kelly Vance-piggybacked on the popularity of the suspended coffee movement and encouraged Richmonders to buy a stranger a cup of coffee to spread kindness across the city. In 2015, the event evolved into RVA Pancake Love, an event held at the Broadberry featuring local artists such as Noah Scalin and Doug Orleski, who created unique pancake art served to attendees, raising over $2,000 for FeedMore.
Last year’s RVA Pancake Love at the Broadberry. Photo: Risa Gomez
While the event was a success with over 200 attendees, 12 pancake artists, and what amounted to 10,000 meals provided to FeedMore, it was what happened after the breakfast wrapped up that felt the most meaningful, according to Ashley Ray, who came on board as an organizer for the annual Valentine’s Day fundraiser last year. “We decided we wanted to help the homeless directly, so we took leftovers to Monroe Park (after the event),” Ray said. “It was the most meaningful and rewarding part of the whole day.”
Enter: RVA Biscuit Love, which will serve the hungry in Monroe Park directly on Valentine’s Day morning. The pop-up restaurant will provide free biscuits and gravy to attendees, served up by some of the city’s best biscuit makers-Early Bird Biscuit Co., Saison, Pasture, Talley’s Meat & Three, The Camel, and Miss Girlee’s.
Nearby restaurant Shoryuken Ramen will open their kitchen to keep the biscuits heated and brew coffee. “It really is the community that has made this event what it is,” Ray said.
So why biscuits? They’re not only trendy right now, but they’re easy, too, Ray says. “[Biscuits are] the new hot thing, and they’re easy to serve.” She says it was also an easy sell to get restaurants on board to bake up batches of biscuits, which don’t require as much prep work as many other meals would have.
This year’s organizers, which include Anika Horn, Abbie Toner, and Larkin Garbee, along with Ray, partnered with Help Somebody–a nonprofit that regularly feeds the homeless around Richmond–to shore up details and determine how to make the most impact. The group helped secure extra trash cans, tents, and tables, and assisted with coordination of putting together a pop-up shop where attendees can shop for donated clothing.
Attendees will also be treated to cake pops and valentines created by local elementary school students. Each will leave with a care package containing essential hygiene and personal care products donated by the community.
Ray says the volunteer interest has been just as great as the offers of local restaurants to bake up biscuits. “Response for volunteers has been unbelievable-we’ve actually had to turn away volunteers at this point.” She says more than 80 people are signed up to help with the event Valentine’s Day morning. They’re still looking for people to set up and break down the event, however.
An after party will be held at Olio in the Fan, where volunteers will be able to enjoy food and drink specials after serving the community.
To learn more about the event and how you can get involved, visit the RVA Biscuit Love website.
Photo: Sarah Choi