Dining Out For Life raised money for AIDS

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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Tampa Bay – Tampa Bay restaurants came together April 24 for Dining Out For Life, an annual dining fundraising event which aims to raise money for local AIDS service organizations. Seventy-two dining locations across Tampa Bay participated this year to help reach the $63,000 goal, including proceeds that came from the new food truck rally aspect of the event.

“The food truck rallies brought out people that normally couldn’t get out to the restaurants,” said Jay Aller, resource development manager with the AIDS Service Association of Pinellas (ASAP).

Aller said the goal, which was $5,000 more than what was raised for ASAP last year, will hopefully be met as restaurants, food trucks and different organizations have started to report what they’ve raised so far.

Tampa Bay’s Dining Out For Life had 103 volunteers this year, where ambassadors from different organizations greeted, served and helped at various restaurant locations to try to raise extra funds for ASAP. Some ambassador volunteers for various restaurants came up with creative ways to raise extra funds, like at O’Maddy’s in Gulfport. There was a raffle for baskets donated from local stores in an effort to money. Aller said this group not only helped raise extra money, but allowed for other local businesses/shops to show their support by participating in their own small way.

Dining Out For Life was created in 1991 by ActionsAIDS in Philadelphia, and is now an annual fundraiser in more than 60 cities. For the Bay area, the money went to ASAP, which serves 1,000-plus clients on both sides of Tampa Bay through counseling, free HIV testing and food pantries.

Participating restaurants—like Georgie’s Alibi, The Flamingo Resort and both area Hamburger Mary’s locations—agreed to donate at least 25 percent of their proceeds from food that night back to the charity, in this case ASAP.

“This year I had very few problems, and got to go around to 38 locations and visit the ambassadors and restaurant managers,” Aller said.

One unique concept this year was the food truck rally that took place at different business complexes. Through the efforts from Maggie Loflin from Maggie on the Move and the Gulf to Bay Food Truck Association, Aller said ASAP benefited from three different food truck rallies—one in North St. Petersburg and one near Downtown St. Petersburg for lunch, and one in Tampa for dinner.

“It was very encouraging to see them [the Gulf to Bay Food Truck Association] getting involved,” Aller said.

As the donations and proceeds continue to come in, Aller hopes to reach the goal of $63,000.

“Next year, I want to focus on pockets of restaurants with independent owners,” Aller said.

Aller said he feels this will add to the welcoming atmosphere he desires from the event, as well as cast a wider net for even more participation in 2015.

For more information, visit ASAPServices.org.

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