For the past fifteen years, restaurants across Tampa Bay participated in Dining Out For Life, donating a portion of their day’s proceeds to Empath Partners in Care to support vital HIV/AIDS services. Now, as many restaurants are struggling, EPIC wants to give back.
“As we all know, this is an unprecedented year,” said EPIC Events Coordinator Molly Robison. “This year, we encourage diners to return the favor by uplifting and supporting our restaurant partners.”
Dining Out for Life is one of the most anticipated outreach events of the year. This one day of dining and fellowship began in Philadelphia almost 30 years ago, then expanded to cities throughout the US and Canada with thousands of restaurants donating a portion of their proceeds to the licensed AIDS service agency in their city. The local event, traditionally held in April or May, was canceled this year due to the pandemic.
Yet some aspects of this year’s version of DOFL will seem familiar. On a designated day – Thursday, September 17 – diners find a participating restaurant from the list at DineTB.org. Folks can opt to dine in safely, order takeout or curbside pickup, delivery if offered, purchase a gift card or buy restaurant swag.
DOFL is traditionally a big event in Gulfport, with many restaurants donating a percentage of their proceeds at breakfast, lunch or dinner, or for the entire day. Some years, 100% of Gulfport restaurant participated. Residents serve as roving ambassadors to greet diners, explain the program, answer questions and accept donations in addition to the percentage the restaurant offers. Folks who flock to local restaurants to support the program receive their “I Dined” sticker.
“Gulfport has always supported EPIC and DOFL, and I am so grateful for that generosity,” said Robison. “I know as a community we will come together again this year and show our local restaurants some love.”
Vice Mayor Paul Ray, who has been an ambassador and one of the event coordinators for years, notes that Gulfport, in years past, has had higher restaurant participation than larger cities in the area.
“I’m so glad to give back to the restaurants that have supported this program over the years. I’m hoping we can make enough people aware so we can give back our restaurants and our community,” said Ray.
While EPIC is not requesting donations from their restaurant partners, Robison says that the COVID-19 crisis has affected EPIC’s ability to raise vital funds for an already vulnerable community.
“We sincerely hope that DOFL participants will support EPIC by making a donation at DineTB.org, where there is a ‘donate now’ button in the contact information section,” said Robison.
There is also a text to give option: text “MyEPIC” to 74121. According to Robison, every donation made via the website or text will automatically be entered into a prize drawing for a $200 Publix gift card.
For more information, follow DOFL on Facebook or reach out to Molly Robison at firstname.lastname@example.org.