In recognition of Grief Awareness Day and International Overdose Awareness Day, Aug. 30 and 31 respectively, Purple Cow restaurant locations around the state participated in a profit-sharing program giving a portion of each day's proceeds from Aug. 28-31 to Hope Movement Coalition.
With five locations in Little Rock, North Little Rock, Conway and Hot Springs, the restaurant chain looks to make a difference by partnering with the organization based in Yellville focused on the impact of substance use disorder and fentanyl poisoning on families.
According to a news release from the two groups, all funds will go toward "provide resources and support for Arkansans who have experienced a loss due to Substance Use Disorder (SUD) or fentanyl poisoning." The funds have yet to be tallied by the restaurants.
Both are based in Arkansas, and the Hope Movement Coalition reached out to Purple Cow about the profit-sharing program.
"It felt like we were good partners," said Leslie Cotton, director of operations at Purple Cow.
She says Purple Cow's values align with those of Hope Movement Coalition in providing healing and comfort for families affected. Founded in Little Rock, she says the business has been "about family since day one" and that this issue impacts family more than anything.
"When you talk about overdose and fentanyl, it affects families," said Cotton. "We have members in our realm that have been affected by these issues."
That includes people who have family members who have dealt with addiction or who overdosed unknowingly on substances such as fentanyl.
"It changes a family's dynamics," she said. "It changes their whole world when you lose a loved one."
While it was the first time that the restaurant has participated in an effort for this cause, Cotton says they are receptive to doing more in the future with Hope Movement Coalition.
"Community partners like the Purple Cow team are making a real impact on those suffering from these painful losses," said Staci James, executive director at Hope Movement Coalition, in the release. "The generosity of our community continues to be a key part of how we support those in need."
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, there were 487 fatal overdoses and 3,837 nonfatal overdoses in 2022 in the state, with the highest rates being in Pulaski, Garland, Clark, Calhoun, Ashley, Sharp and Poinsett Counties.
That number is down from 2020, per the CDC, when 546 Arkansans died by overdose or 19.1 per 100,000 people. Nationally, predicted overdose deaths increased last year by 0.5% from 109,179 in 2021 to 109,680 in 2022 while reported overdose deaths decreased by 2% from 107,573 to 105,452 over the same period.
But both the Arkansas rate and the national rate have risen quite dramatically since 2000 when the rate was 5.4 per 100,000 statewide and 6.2 nationally.
"We hope that this gets more attention and focus from Arkansans," Cotton said. "We wanted to bring, not just awareness but also funds."