Waitress Whitney Tanner, left, serves Rich Bennett of Elm City his lunch on Wednesday at Mayflower Seafood, one of 55 restaurants participating Thursday in the 15th annual Dine Out for Communities In Schools

Telegram photo / Emma Tannenbaum

Waitress Whitney Tanner, left, serves Rich Bennett of Elm City his lunch on Wednesday at Mayflower Seafood, one of 55 restaurants participating Thursday in the 15th annual Dine Out for Communities In Schools

Dine Out effort to aid Communities In Schools

By Jim Holt

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Customers chowing down at select restaurants across the Twin Counties on Thursday will double as financial contributors to one of the larger dropout prevention and student success programs in the country.

For 16 years, the annual Dine Out for Communities In Schools fundraiser has attracted more and more restaurants willing to donate 10 percent of every tab paid from open to close to the local Communities In Schools program.

This year, 55 restaurants are participating.

Dine Out traditionally has raised $14,000 to $15,000 to further aid in providing scholarships, financial literacy workshops, college visits and a variety of other events that help committed – often first generation – students succeed in transitioning to a postsecondary education, said Sandra Jones, executive director of Communities In Schools of the Rocky Mount Region.

“It’s a great way for people to contribute who are not regular cash donors. They become partners with Communities In Schools,” Jones said. “When everybody has to eat, it makes for a great campaign. We are encouraging our friends to eat out for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

The event, a collaborative effort between Communities In Schools and Boddie-Noell Enterprises, helps supplement the nonprofit organization’s annual budget, she said.

“This is one of the fundraisers that can be communitywide because it involves simply going out and eating a meal,” Jones said. “It’s a good way for people who don’t have $25, $100 or $200 to give to a nonprofit to become contributors just by enjoying a meal. I don’t know how much easier it can get.”

Participating businesses also see increased sales, Jones said, as customers see that certain restaurants are expressing a desire to benefit students and decide to do more to help.

“The weather last year wasn’t great, but the prognosticators this year are predicting Thursday will be nice,” Jones said. “I hope people who want to contribute to the success of our children come out and take advantage of it.”