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Maple Tree Inn customer food orders adding up to donations for first responders

Franciscan Health needs more personal protective equipment for its healthcare workers as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow. Maple Tree Inn owners Erich and Katie Wennberg responded, starting a fund this week for purchasing protective gloves. #giftthegloves


The Maple Tree Inn owners announced they started #GIFTTHEGLOVES, a campaign that invites patrons to help provide front-line responders with Nitrile gloves. 

Boxes of protective gloves are ready to be delivereed to Franciscan Health’s Olympia Fields hospital by Maple Tree Inn owners Erich and Katie Wennberg. (Provided photo)

At Wednesday’s launch, carryout customers were nearly unanimous in donating $6 to send a box of 100 gloves to first responders battling COVID-19. Call-in customers added it to their credit card order.

On March 25, the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association posted a letter from Franciscan Health CEO Allan Spooner expressing the need for more personal protection supplies at its facilities. 

Friday morning, owners Katie and Erich Wennberg delivered the first of the donated boxes to Franciscan Health in Olympia Fields to help fulfill the hospital’s resource needs. 


The Wennbergs used their industry connections to secure the personal protective equipment and envision having enough of the product to disseminate to health care workers, first responders, veterinarians and all others locally going to battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Customers arrived in physically separated waves to get their pickup order dinners each strategically displayed with generous spacing along the bar.

“We at the Maple Tree are among the lucky ones because our branding brings customers to our door and they, in turn, are looking for answers and ways to give that will have an immediate impact on this pandemic,” said Erich Wennberg. “People have been very generous.”

The launching of the #GIFTTHEGLOVES initiative began Wednesday, but the idea was percolating between the owners for days and led to “extensive research” so there was a certainty they’d be able to procure at least 40,000 4 mil Nitrile gloves.

“We will coordinate with local government, hospitals, veterinarians, nursing homes and those in need, to ensure quick and safe delivery,” said the Wennbergs in their Facebook launch. “We will also match the donations, box-for-box. Call in, place your take-out order, and simply tell the server to add a box of gloves. We will handle the rest. Together, we can, and must, help our first responders safely battle this pandemic.”

The Maple Tree Inn owners and staff have been working with local leaders, health authorities and the Illinois Restaurant Association to prepare “a rigid procedure for call-in and pick-up service” designed to keep customers from standing in line, while remaining six feet apart and inside the restaurant’s entrance for only minutes at a time. 

There is no delivery service at this time but runners are available for parking lot delivery at the Maple Tree Inn.

“First and foremost, we want to protect the health of our customers and our own staff,” Erich Wennberg said. “This a fluid situation and we are doing everything we’re told by the experts, while creating opportunities to get meals to residents in our community.”

Carryout orders continue Wednesday through Sunday from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 18849 Dixie Highway. Call 708-388-3461 to place an order. Credit cards only.

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