If 2021 has proven anything it’s that there is always a potential hero inside all of us. Rising to the occasion, that’s what makes a hero a hero. Forged from the fire that was the early days of the pandemic, a local company called California Love Drop emerged. Today, they are making food waves around Southern California by feeding first responders.
Wing Lam (co-founder of Wahoo’s Fish Tacos) and his Wahoo’s team put together freshly-made brown bag taco lunches for the first responders (ICUs, emergency rooms, fire departments, police departments, CHOC hospitals, retirement communities, city community centers, COVID testing sites, blood drives, etc.) who have been working tirelessly through the pandemic.
We were able to sit down with Lam and Wendy Ellis on a Zoom video call and find out more about this charitable work.
California Love Drop started in April 2020 from a thoughtful idea of “what if we gave back to our hard-working first responders during COVID?” And give back, they have! CLD has delivered more than 20 THOUSAND meals in just over a year. They have over 180 delivery locations from 230+ “love drops,” and only a handful of workers. They also have a GoFundMe where they’ve raised more than $63,000.
Business for Wahoo’s is just like any other restaurant business during COVID; slow. With over 30 locations in Southern California alone, some locations have been slower than others and a few are just straight up closed (like Ontario airport and the Honda Center locations). Lam has used this to his teams’ advantage and given them the opportunity to work through making these brown bagged meals. Through their finely-tuned assembly line of only 5-10 workers with all their necessary PPE, they create hundreds of freshly cooked meals in under an hour. (It takes me over an hour to feed my family of five, so we understand just how impressive this is!)
Fish, chicken, steak, veggie – they offer it all with their donation drop. But once you finish this amazing meal, you always need a drink and dessert, right? CLD has received donation help from multiple places like Nothing Bundt Cakes in Huntington Beach, Pitos pita chips, Yogurtland, Cholula, Hint Water and Monster Energy drinks to fill in the stomach gaps and then some.
Something that Wahoo’s is doing through California Love Drop is reminding us (the patrons) that they are open for business. The food industry was severely affected by COVID shutdowns and most people have forgotten their old stomping grounds, or don’t want to travel outside their “new normal” food parameter. Lam explained to us that most restaurants lost 80-90% of their business, and much of that business hasn’t returned. Many restaurants made most of their income during lunch hours (through office workers grabbing a bite to eat), but with so many people working for home now, this business time has seriously slimmed down. Working from home has its advantages, but with all the people affected by this in the food industry, this is definitely a disadvantage. Fortunately, if the restaurant has a drive-though, it’s just the opposite since this helps keep people socially distant.
While California Love Drop networks and connects with other charities, they are able to pair up and help each other. On Friday, June 4th, CLD will be helping out at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center’s 50th anniversary celebration. Lam will be serving up fresh tacos on the spot for hungry guests, and the proceeds go towards the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach. The Center is on the front lines to help local marine mammals in need, so not only does California Love Drop help human first responders, but animals, too!
This isn’t California Love Drop’s first act of kindness though. CLD have previously partnered with Wyland Foundation and USA Surfing to sponsor Beach Clean Up days. Lam has also received a “Corporate Hero Award” from Antes Roofing and Waterproofing for all of his hard work.
Ellis told us California Love Drop has had a huge boost in monetary donations from Los Angeles radio station KLOS FM listeners. Lam is a special guest on the Heidi and Frank Show from time to time where he’s able to talk about the great work CLD is doing and where they are heading next. KLOS listeners are the driving force behind the CLD GoFundMe amount and continue to give selflessly.
Getting the message out is top priority. Lam does a weekly call-in to the Heidi & Frank show every Friday, just past 7:30am. He updates listeners on upcoming Love Drops, and has special guest such as Wyland joining him from time-to-time.
Lam expressed that giving back to the community has been really fulfilling. He said that last week he was at a love drop at Crime Survivors, a women’s shelter for abused women and children, and he was able to watch as they received self-defense training. Ellis added that though California Love Drop has helped others, it has also helped them to keep busy and mentally clear during a highly stressful time.
To get involved with California Love Drop, make a drop suggestion, or just find out more: