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Missouri-based beverage distributor makes donation to restaurant worker fund 

  

After more than a decade of providing free rides home on the biggest night of the year for bars, Missouri-based company Major Brands is redirecting the focus of its “Safe Home After Every Occasion” program this year. 

“For more than 10 years we’ve been giving away free rides through ride services on the night before Thanksgiving, which is typically the biggest night of the year for bars,” Major Brands CEO Sue McCollum told The Missouri Times. “We’ve given more than 100,000 Missourians a free ride home through our Safe At Home program in an effort to promote responsible consumption, but this year with COVID and officials advising people to stay home, we want to do something different and help the restaurant workers who are the backbone of our industry and have been impacted by this pandemic.”

Funds typically earmarked for transportation are set to go toward restaurant workers this year. Alongside suppliers Beam Suntory and The Wine Group, more than $30,000 is being donated to the Missouri Restaurant Association (MRA) Workers Benefit Fund. 

The fund was founded in April to respond to furloughs and closures over the pandemic and has received more than $1.3 million since. 

“The effects of COVID-19 have devastated the restaurant industry,” MRA CEO Bob Bonney said. “The Missouri Restaurant Association Education Foundation created the Restaurant Workers’ Benefit Fund in the spring of 2020 to assist restaurant workers. With more restaurants now closed for indoor dining, MRA is reviving the fund. The continued leadership and support of Major Brands and Beam Suntory, along with the Wine Group, will allow us to step up once again to immediately provide a helping hand to many of those affected. MRA acknowledges their donation with heartfelt gratitude.”

Funds are earmarked for restaurant workers in need, including those struggling to keep up with new restrictions and shutdowns. 

In addition to the donation, Major Brands is publishing a list of simple cocktails for Missourians to make at home in lieu of traveling to bars. 

McCollum said the company looked forward to offering ride services again in the future. 

The MRA signed onto a lawsuit over newly passed restrictions in St. Louis County last week. Among the new guidelines was an order for restaurants and bars to reduce capacity to just 25 percent. Establishments were also relegated to outdoor or curbside service only. 

Major Brands is the largest Missouri-based distributor of wine, beer, and spirits. It employs more than 6,000 Missourians and serves about 9,000 retail customers, according to the company.