Georgia bar owner removes $3,714 in bills from walls to give to unemployed staff during coronavirus pandemic

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(CBS NEWS) – Some American bars choose to put their money into their decor – literally. A kitschy trend for restaurants and bars is to cover their walls in dollar bills, and one Georgia establishment is now thankful they did so. The Sand Bar on Tybee Island was once covered floor to ceiling in bills, but during this unprecedented time, when their staff is out of work, the owner has decided to put that money to good use.

Bar owner Jennifer Knox has taken down every last dollar bill, and will donate the money to her staff during the coronavirus pandemic, which has shuttered many businesses, including her own. “We literally had money on the walls and time on our hands,” Knox told CBS affiliate WTOC. “There was not a more perfect time to give back to my people.”

The bills, donated by customers, have been covering the walls of The Sand Bar for six years, but at the end of March, Knox decided it was time for a “renovation.” She posted a photo on Facebook showing a staff member carefully removing the money. “The Sand Bar is going to have a fresh new look, while giving back at the same time!” Knox wrote. 

She called it a “labor of love” and asked customers to guess how much money has been stapled to the walls over the years. It took three days to remove all the bills and in the end, Knox had a total of $3,714, which she will give to the bar’s bartenders and musicians. 

“It’s just home to a lot of people,” Knox said about her bar. “We have bar church here, a sign class here. A lot of awesome stuff that brings the community together.” 

Some of the bills have been written on by customers who wanted to mark an anniversary or special occasion they were celebrating during their visit. “Each one is a message of love and now we can give that love in return,” Pam Hessler, Knox’s mother, told WTOC. 

After word got out about Knox’s donation to her staff, fans of The Sand Bar wanted to help, too. Nearly 400 people donated, and now the pot of money has grown to a total of $4,104.

Each employee will now get about $600. “Oh my god!” staff member Lydia Clark said. “That will pay my rent.”

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