Pay It Forward Charleston began as a collaboration between farmers, restaurants, and community members who united in an effort to feed food and beverage workers during the COVID-19 crisis. In all, Pay It Forward raised $100,000 and delivered 11,575 bags of groceries to members of the food and beverage community.

With the success of the original provision assistance program and an outpouring of community support, the founding team knew there was an opportunity to do more. Pay It Forward Charleston expanded efforts to include emergency financial relief and from February 2021 until February 2024 the organization provided $150,000 in grants to over 230 people working in F+B.

With a high degree of excitement and a sense of responsibility to those they serve, Pay It Forward was acquired by Southern Smoke Foundation in early 2024. Southern Smoke Foundation is a mission-aligned 501(c)3 providing emergency financial relief and mental health support to industry peers in food and beverage nationwide. Pay It Forward’s staff and board of directors celebrate Southern Smoke’s expanded efforts in South Carolina, which includes serving the same food and beverage professionals who make up Charleston’s robust F+B community and have been at the center of Pay It Forward’s work for the last four years.

Southern Smoke Foundation is here to serve you. From farmers to fry cooks, servers to sommeliers, Southern Smoke takes care of their own by putting dollars directly into the pockets of food and beverage workers when it’s needed most.

Whether there are mental health needs or unforeseen hardships, no ask is too big or too small.


Partners with a Purpose

Check out the valuable partners who helped make Pay It Forward Charleston a reality.

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  • All Good Industries
  • Charleston Cotton Exchange
  • Charleston Matchbox
  • Charleston Wine and Food
  • Counter Culture Coffee
  • Cru Catering
  • Cutting Boards for a Cause
  • Fleet Landing
  • Gigpro
  • High Wire Distilling
  • Home Team BBQ
  • Homegrown Hospitality
  • Island Farm Foundation
  • Le Creuset
  • Les Dames d'Escoffier
  • Limehouse Produce
  • Lowcountry Hospitality Association
  • Lowcountry Oyster Festival
  • Nelson Printing
  • Rebel Taqueria
  • Republic National Distributing Co
  • RESY/AmEx
  • Storey Farms
  • Terri Henning
  • The Establishment
  • The Ordinary
  • The Ripple Foundation
  • Tradd and Weesie Newton
  • Uptown Hospitality

Carrie Larson, Executive Director
Flo Languell, Administrator
Taylor Graham, Program Coordinator

Board Members

Michael Shemtov, Chair
Jai Jones
Steve Palmer
Tara Pate
Tarek 'T' Ravenel
Marie Stitt
Jay Weaver

Founding Members

Michael Shemtov, Tara Pate, Drisa Lamb, Flo Languell, Beth Walton, Josh Kleiger, Steve Boyer, Todd Anis

Special Thanks

Mickey and Ellen Bakst of Feed the Need, our original 501(c)(3) partner.

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