Front Line Appreciation Group (FLAG) of Chatham and Madison started out as a local community response to provide simultaneous support to frontline workers and local restaurants during the pandemic. When FLAG was created, the pandemic had hit New Jersey hard–the state had the second-largest number of verified cases and deaths from COVID-19 in the nation. Medical professionals in New Jersey were risking their health and their lives by working long shifts to provide crucial care to their patients. Many were separated from their families for extended periods so that they would not risk bringing the disease home. FLAG founders mobilized via social media to support these frontline workers and keep local businesses open. Within a few weeks, the founders had collected more than $25,000 to purchase meals and gift cards from local restaurants for delivery to frontline workers in the Chatham and Madison communities.
When it became clear that the medical and economic impacts of the pandemic would be long-lasting and FLAG’s work would be ongoing, the founders approached the firm for assistance with nonprofit formation and obtaining tax-exempt status. Because FLAG had already received generous pledges of support from the community, expedited processing by the IRS was necessary so that the organization could use the donations to support local businesses and provide meals to local health care workers. The firm helped FLAG become a nonprofit organization and worked with the IRS to get its application for a tax exemption approved within 45 days. FLAG is now a nationwide movement with independent groups working across the country. These groups have collectively raised millions of dollars to feed frontline workers and support struggling restaurants and food service businesses in their local communities.