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Dining Out For Life: Coming Thursday to a restaurant near you
It’s not every day that the necessary act of eating can help improve another person’s quality of life, but that’s just what Dining Out For Life proposes. By eating at any participating restaurant on Thursday, April 26, diners can help raise funds for a local AIDS agency or organization. In Minnesota, participating Duluth and Twin Cities area restaurants will donate a percentage of their sales to The Aliveness Project while participating restaurants in greater Minnesota will donate to the Rural AIDS Action Network.
Over 180 restaurants will be participating in Minnesota. “This is a very easy way to help someone without having to walk or ride a bike,” said Tim Marburger, director of fundraising and special events at The Aliveness Project.
The Aliveness Project describes itself as a community center that encourages the self-empowerment of those living with HIV/AIDS while providing a number of services and programs to the Minnesota AIDS community. Donations to the Aliveness Project totaling almost $200,000 from the 2011 Dining Out For Life Event contributed to such programs as the food shelf, which distributed more than 50 tons of food in 2011, holiday baskets, integrative therapies, and 35,000 hot meals. “Last year we served over 1,600 people living HIV and AIDS and their families. That represents about 1 in 4 people in Minnesota living with HIV,” Marburger said.
Part of the success of the event depends on the Ambassador volunteers. Ambassadors welcome and thank restaurant diners, enroll people for drawings, answer questions, and invite everyone they know, such as friends, family, and coworkers, to join them at a restaurant. Said Marburger, “It’s like a dinner party only you don’t have to wash the dishes or pay for it.” Marburger said that The Aliveness Project was still looking for volunteers to serve as Ambassadors and photographers to help make the day festive.
Where to eat
Started in 1991, Dining Out For Life has grown to include locations through the United States and Canada.
For a complete list of participating restaurants visit Dining Out for Life.
For the list of only those restaurants located in greater Minnesota (except Duluth), click here.
Want to volunteer? Twin Cities/Duluth: Fill out an online application here or contact The Aliveness Project.
Greater Minnesota: Contact RAAN for more information.
Charles Hempeck, executive director of the Rural AIDS Action Network (RAAN), volunteered as an Ambassador during Dining Out For Life in 2011. He said that he had a great volunteer experience and decided that it would be a great event for greater Minnesota as well. Greater Minnesota locations consist of the following: Alexandria, Lanesboro, Mankato, and St. Cloud. While the Aliveness Project has participated for eighteen years, this year will be the first for RAAN and the restaurants that will be donating to RAAN. “I’m hoping we will have a great turnout,” Hempeck said.
RAAN includes in its mission the goal of fostering communities with the care and knowledge to assist people who are affected by HIV/AIDS. RAAN also provides programs and services for people living with HIV/AIDS and reaches out to the at-risk and larger population through health education and prevention services and professional training. Support groups are available in certain regions where RAAN provides service.
Hempeck expressed his hope that participation in Dining Out for Life this year would lay the groundwork for participation in future years. People interested in volunteering can call RAAN, he said. He encouraged people to dine out at the participating restaurants.
As Marburger noted, “AIDS doesn’t just affect Hennepin County, but the entire state.”