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Posted October 21, 2009 | comments Leave a comment

Dining for a difference

By Laetitia Clayton -- lclayton@nvdaily.com

This Saturday, area diners have a chance to make a difference just by eating out.

As part of the United Way of Northern Shenandoah Valley's campaign to raise $1.1 million this year, eight local restaurants have agreed to donate a portion of their Oct. 24 proceeds to the charitable organization's Dining to Make a Difference program. The fundraiser coincides with national Make a Difference Day.

David Womick, owner of Dave-Bob's BBQ & Such in Winchester, says he was asked to donate 10 to 15 percent of his proceeds that day to the United Way. He decided on 15 percent, and says participating in the fundraiser just makes sense.

"It's a way to raise money" for a good cause, "and it helps my business. I'm very confident that if people come in and try our food, they will like it," Womick says. "The customers spend no more than they normally would, but part of it goes to charity."

Womick says he has been familiar with the United Way since childhood, and remembers his parents donating to the organization through their employer.

"So I was aware of it growing up," he says. "It's a way to make one donation and spread it out. The United Way, they have a lot under their umbrella."

Joe Shtulman, president of the area United Way, says this is the second year for the dining program, and some of the restaurants have participated both years: Golden Corral, One Block West and Umbertos Pizza and Pasta, all located in Winchester.

"Last year was the first time we did it, and a number of the restaurants asked to be included [this year]," Shtulman says. "A couple of the restaurants approached the United Way. They recognize it involves a lot of people and does good things."

It can also be good for the eateries that participate.

"We help promote them ... they get special posters to put up," Shtulman says. "We encourage our volunteers to go out to eat" at those restaurants.

Last year, the dining campaign raised about $3,000, he says, and this year "I'm hoping that we're gonna raise more."

Even though it's a relatively small percentage of the overall donations, it definitely helps, Shtulman says.

"It's about the awareness as well as the dollars raised that makes a difference," he says. "We're getting the word out about what we offer at United Way."

As of Oct. 16, the local United Way had raised $301,700, or 27.4 percent of the fall campaign's goal, Shtulman says.

Womick, whose restaurant has been open for four months, said he isn't sure how much Dave-Bob's will be able to donate, but he has displayed the poster and listed the event on his Web site (www.dave-bobsbbqandsuch.com) to let customers know.

"It may not be a lot that we raise, but every little bit helps," Womick says, "and it goes to a lot of different things."

United Way is encouraging people to eat at one of the participating restaurants this Saturday, whether it's for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The contributions will be used to help fund local health and human care services.

Participating restaurants are:

• @The Blend Café, 140 Independence Drive, Winchester, 678-8881.

• Dave-Bob's BBQ & Such, 1080 Millwood Pike, Winchester, 678-0227.

• Bob Evans, 816 Millwood Ave., Winchester, 722-5290.

• Golden Corral, 120 Costello Drive, Winchester, 667-6329.

• Ledo Pizza & Pasta, 419 Gateway Drive, Winchester, 662-9499.

• Los Toltecos Mexican Restaurante, 1046 Millwood Pike, Winchester, 665-0088.

• One Block West, 25 S. Indian Alley, Winchester, 662-1455.

• Umbertos Pizza and Pasta, 170 Delco Plaza, Winchester, 722-3811.

For more information, call the United Way at 536-1610 or send an e-mail to uway@visuallink.com.

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