Businesses around the community are giving back in a big way – by participating in the #OutlastCOVID19 lunch challenge, a social media challenge urging businesses to purchase food from locally-owned restaurants, donate the food to another local business and then challenge said business to pay it forward by choosing another restaurant and business to become a part of the chain.

The challenge started with Robert Smith with Smith Supply, who had heard about the challenge from other small towns, like Glen Rose, where the idea was started by Jordan Moore, owner of Glen Rose Auto Parts.

Smith wanted to start the challenge in Stephenville so he bought food from R&R Barbecue and delivered to Edward & Stokes.

“He [Smith] really wanted to get it started in Stephenville and asked if we would pay it forward and get it going. It’s just to support the local restaurants,” said Julia Stokes, owner of Edward & Stokes. “It would be nice if it branched out, if we could get it going another route too, just to keep our local restaurants’ names out there and keep everybody’s spirits up. It’s rough right now for small businesses. We thought it was a fantastic idea and we jumped on the opportunity.”

Edwards & Stokes bought food from Caam’s and donated to F&M Bank, who then purchased fajitas from Mi Familia and gave to Hunter Body Works.

“We were approached by Edwards & Stokes,” said Wesley Rose, president with F&M Bank. “They brought us lunch one day and then asked us to participate and we felt we needed to support our local restaurants. It’s more for those restaurants that don’t have a drive thru; they’ve been impacted a little bit harder than a fast food restaurant, so we thought it would be very important for us to be able to participate and pay it forward for another business like Edwards and Stokes did for us. We hope everybody can participate in it.”

Hunter Body Works then contacted The Purple Goat and donated food to Bramlett Implement, Inc.

The Purple Goat also took to Facebook to tell the community about the challenge.

“••Pay it forward•• no longer just a kind gesture going around the drive through locations for coffee or fast food! It’s grown into something much more in our community and we have been BLESSED to be apart of this exchange! How fun, how exciting and how thoughtful of these random businesses paying it forward to one another! We were able to be a small part of a much larger chain traveling through our city today and for that we are blessed and thankful!”

As the challenge continues with Bramlett Implement, Inc., business owners around the community are sharing posts on Facebook and encouraging other small businesses to participate in the challenge.

“We challenge any small business to participate and keep Stephenville Strong,” said Clynt Hunter of Hunter Body Works. “Support local business!!”

“Even in trying times businesses are innovating new ways to help one another out and give and bless each other,” The Purple Goat said on Facebook. “We are #stephenvillestrong!”