ASHEVILLE – Last year, Dining Out For Life, the national fundraiser for community-based HIV / AIDS organizations, had to bypass the coronavirus and its associated closures, becoming Dine In For Life in some cities.
This year, although the pandemic is showing signs of receding, Dine In For Life returns to Asheville on April 29.
Restaurants participating in Dining Out For Life typically donate 20% of their sales to the nonprofit Western North Carolina AIDs, while diners and raffle ticket buyers add even more.
“In total, the event involves tens of thousands of people, raises up to $ 150,000 and is the largest HIV / AIDS awareness day in western North Carolina,” said Michael Poandl, WNCAP development and communications coordinator.
Dining Out For Life has always been the largest fundraiser for WNCAP, which provides prevention education and awareness to people at risk of HIV / AIDS and provides support services to local clients already living with HIV.
Like last year, WNCAP is not asking for donations from restaurants, but rather asking for community support for local restaurants through restaurant meals or orders.
Guests can also make individual donations to WNCAP at wncap.org.
Crucial financing need
Since 1986, WNCAP has relied on community support to continue its operations, with the COVID-19 crisis making individual donations more valuable than ever.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of our customers to stop working or leave their homes because they are immunocompromised,” Poandl explained. “It has made it much more difficult for our people to access medical care, food and other basic resources.”
WNCAP Executive Director Antonio Del Toro on World AIDS Day wrote an op-ed for the Asheville Citizen-Times, detailing how people living with HIV are more vulnerable today than at any time. another time since the peak of the AIDS epidemic.
Demand for WNCAP’s services has skyrocketed, with the number of case management clients increasing 16% last year and the amount paid by the organization in emergency financial assistance increased by 51 %. The need for food aid has increased by more than 60%.
“The distribution of the opioid overdose drug, naloxone, has increased by 540%,” Del Toro wrote. “Times like these remind us how much we depend on each other.”
Despite this, WNCAP has shifted gears for this crucial fundraiser to honor the financial hardships restaurants faced throughout the pandemic.
Dine In For Life, said Poandl, “kind of reverses the Dining Out For Life model in that instead of restaurants supporting us, we want to support them. We want to drive traffic to participating restaurants that have supported WNCAP and other nonprofits for years – in some cases decades. “
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WNCAP, said Poandl, aims to be a cheerleader for local restaurants as they have been for the local organization for 30 years.
Last year, Dine In For Life raised approximately $ 20,000 from the community. That’s about 15% of what WNCAP receives in a typical year, but it’s still noticeable in times of crisis.
This year, with the help of community sponsors and an aggressive marketing campaign, Poandl said the group remains optimistic and can raise up to $ 50,000 without soliciting anything from local restaurants.
This is how it works
On April 29, support participating local restaurants with take-out, deliveries, on-site meals or the purchase of gift cards. A complete list of DIFL restaurants is available at wncap.org/DIFL.
Then donate to WNCAP at wncap.org to help maintain the group’s HIV prevention, care and harm reduction services.
Those who donate by April 30 will automatically be entered into a draw for prizes, including an “Asheville Stay,” a private movie screening at the Grail Moviehouse, or a $ 500 cash card.
Posting a selfie with your DIFL meal with the @wncap tag on social media also allows you to participate in the raffle.
Mackensy Lunsford has lived in Asheville for over 20 years and has been an editor for the Asheville Citizen Times since 2012. Lunsford is a former professional cook and former restaurant owner.
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