Virginia restaurant raises money for Beirut explosion victims

Virginia News

How purchasing a plate of hummus can help...

ARLINGTON, Va. (WDVM/WFXR) — Fear, shock, disbelief: These were just some of the emotions felt by Arlington-based restaurant Lebanese Taverna owners, Grace Abi-Najm Shea and Jennifer Abi-Najm, after the explosion in Beirut last week.

The family grew up in Lebanon, and Shea’s father, the founder of Lebanese Taverna, still lives there. The explosion, which killed at least 70 people on Aug. 4, hit their family hard. After the initial feelings of sadness and shock, the family began thinking of ways they could help their home country.

The Abi-Najm family of Lebanese Taverna. (Photo: Courtesy WDVM)

Immediately, Shea started a GoFundMe page for the Lebanese Red Cross. Within days, the restaurant reached their goal of $50,000.

The initial $50,000 raised is going towards the Lebanese Red Cross, while the rest of the proceeds benefit World Central Kitchen, an organization that fights poverty and aids those involved in world disasters.

“The GoFundMe is currently at $67,000 this morning… we’ve concurrently started another fundraiser with World Central Kitchen,” Shea said on Wednesday.

Proceeds from hummus plates purchased at the restaurant will go towards World Central Kitchen. (Photo: Courtesy Christy Matino/WDVM)

Lebanese Taverna also decided to implement a new initiative this past weekend — for each plate of hummus purchased, $1 would be donated to the cause. So far, customers are purchasing the hummus — and the owners are overwhelmed by the help they have received from the community.

“People are donating to people they don’t know…but they care about them. It’s so heartwarming,” said Abi-Najm.

Lebanese Taverna has been in Arlington since 1979. The owners say they have prided themselves on bringing Lebanon and the culture to the local community.

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