Now that the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are upon us, and with busy schedules, Sampson County residents may not have the chance to prepare every meal at home.
Local restaurants have teamed up with the United Way of Sampson County in hopes of helping ease that burden.
The “Dine Out for United Way” event will be held Friday, Dec. 8, and executive director Nancy Carr said six restaurants will be participating by donating a portion of their proceeds from that day’s lunch and dinner sales to benefit the local organization that, in turn, benefits a dozen or more local service organizations each year.
Now an annual event, the United Way held the event in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016 and is now poised for its fifth “Dine Out”, featuring veteran partners Zeng’s Chinese Palace, Alfredo’s Ristorante Italiano, Mi Finca and Ribeyes Steakhouse and newly joined partners Vinny’s of Roseboro and Southern Smoke of Garland.
“This event has really grown over the last couple of years,” said Carr. “We are just encouraging the community to go out and visit one of these restaurants and dine either for lunch and/or dinner that day.”
According to Carr, this event usually brings $1,000 that goes towards the organization’s general campaign fund. Last year, approximately $1,100 was given to the local organization. Already at 75 percent of their goal, the United Way of Sampson County has set a goal for $175,000 this year.
Taking part in the “Dine Out” event is just one of the many ways the community can help raise money that is then turned around and dispersed among Sampson County agencies.
This event falls in the middle of the holiday season, while many people are out and about looking for their Christmas presents.
“They may be shopping or running around having Christmas socials,” Carr said, “but if they can remember to eat out Dec. 8 that would be great. A lot of times after Thanksgiving and gearing up for the holidays, people are rushed and pressed for time, and they are going out to eat anyways. We are hoping that if they do, they will choose to eat at one of the six establishments.”
The “Dine Out” event has operated a bit differently each of the previous two times it was held in Sampson, including one year when a different restaurant was featured every day of the week, but there was mixed feedback when those who wanted to support the cause were confused as to which day each was being showcased.
Carr credited several of the organization’s “pacesetters” with getting the 2017 campaign started right. Among them are Smithfield-Farmland, Sampson County Schools and Clinton City Schools. Each of the pacesetters are working to collect funds for the campaign, but their official totals haven’t been determined.
Carr said the perception by some is that money raised here goes elsewhere. That could not be further from the truth, she said, with United Way officials stressing to everyone that money raised locally stays local.
According to Carr, 97 percent of what is raised each year is dispersed among the 10 partner agencies supported through United Way. While more money might leave local communities under other UW chapters, that is not the case with Sampson’s. Carr attested that out of all money raised, a mere 3 percent is used for the group’s license, print materials, office space and miscellaneous expenses.
Current partner agencies with United Way are CAFE, Sampson County Department of Aging, Boy Scouts of America Tuscarora Council, Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program, Girl Scouts-North Carolina Coastal Plains, Sampson County Child Advocacy Center, Sampson County 4-H, Sampson County Fireman’s Association, Sampson County Friends of Education and Special Olympics Sampson County.
For some of these agencies, the money received through United Way is the only source of funding for the organization, which must be a non-profit organization.
“We want everyone to invest in the community,” Carr attested. “For many of these organizations, United Way is the sole supporter.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.