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Want to feed first responders during coronavirus? There's a website (and delicious food) for that

Rickey Dobbs, owner of Merzi Fresh Indian Kitchen, built a website where customers can sponsor lunches for those who can't work from home during coronavirus.

WASHINGTON — Even heroes have to eat, right?

It's hard enough for first responders to savor a meal when they can’t even break away from their jobs. A pandemic makes the simple task even more arduous.

But restaurateur Rickey Dobbs, owner of Merzi Fresh Indian Kitchen in Penn Quarter, has an idea.

With his business limited to takeout only, Dobbs developed a website where patrons can sponsor lunch for one, five, or even 20 heroes of the fight against coronavirus. 

"In just a few days of having it online, we raised enough money to buy about 220 lunches," Dobbs said. 'We've already started giving them out." 

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The delectable dishes will soon be delivered to the medical staff of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. A dialysis clinic is on the schedule for next week.

Even jobs like garbage collectors and pharmacy employees – performing essential services – are set to receive deliveries from Merzi in the coming days.

"This is a tough time for all of us, restaurants especially," Dobbs said. "But even more so than that, people who are out on the front lines of this pandemic." 

Visitors to the restaurant’s website, MerziCares, can suggest places where the chef and his staff should deliver to next. Dobbs posts videos and photos of his kitchen’s efforts on its Facebook page, to keep patrons engaged.

"Through the generosity of Merzi customers like Ruth, Ellen, Wendy, Pat, and many more, MerziCares was able to deliver 25 hot lunches and cold canned drinks to the trash collection drivers and helpers of JLT Trucking today!” a Facebook post reads. "Those guys work rain or shine, even in a pandemic, to keep the city clean, and we really appreciate them!" 

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