For 18 years, the Western North Carolina Aids Project has counted on the generosity of local, independent restaurants to fuel its annual fundraiser. With those restaurants struggling to stay afloat, WNCAP is hoping to return their kindness with a COVID-19 twist on Dining Out for Life.
“Typically, the event model is based on participating restaurants donating 20% of gross sales on DOFL day, the last Thursday in April,” says Michael Poandl, development coordinator. “Over the lifetime of the event, over $1 million has been raised for HIV prevention and care.”
DOFL 2020 was originally scheduled for April 30, with 103 restaurants signed on. After the state ended in-house dining March 17, WNCAP canceled the event and then brainstormed what to do. “We feel a part of the restaurant community and wanted to find a way to support them,” he explains. “Rather than dining out, we’re inviting people to dine in with takeout from those restaurants offering it or purchase a gift card for future use.”
WNCAP has created a spreadsheet of its partner restaurants for those who would like to support them. “Obviously we are not asking restaurants to donate, but we do invite people to go to WNCAP.org/donate and make a donation, using the pull-down box to indicate DIFL. Some restaurants will also include donation envelopes in carry-out bags.”
People who order takeout from a partner restaurant are encouraged to snap a selfie while dining at home and post it to social media with the hashtags #DineInEndHIV and #TakeoutForLife and tag the restaurants as well. “We’re doing what we can to keep the issue out there — both issues, AIDS awareness and independent restaurants. They have always been there for us, and we want to be there for them,” says Poandl. Everyone who posts a selfie or donates will be entered in a raffle for a $500 cash card from Mosaic Realty.
Details, including a list of Dining Out for Life partner restaurants, can be found at diningoutforlife.com/city/asheville.