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Businesses say fundraisers pay off

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When Sandy Call plans a fundraiser at Bridge Road Bistro, the last thing she's thinking about is making a profit.

It might not sound like a savvy business decision, but Call, who is general manager of the South Hills eatery, knows it's paying off.

"Whatever you do, it's always paid forward to the restaurant," she said, referring to the words the restaurant's late owner, chef Robert Wong, would tell his staff.

Wong passed away suddenly last year, and Call has made it her mission to continue his tradition of giving.

Many businesses dedicate a day to raise money for various causes or fundraisers by donating a percentage of their proceeds or collecting money.

"Giving back to the community is something every business should do," said Tony Harvey, the general manager of IHOP in South Charleston.

Every year International House of Pancake restaurants hold a "Pancake Day" to benefit an organization. In West Virginia, the chain raises money for the Children's Miracle Network at West Virginia University.

Like Call, Harvey believes it makes his business stronger.

"I wouldn't say we have more business than usual that day, but I think people come that usually don't come [to the restaurant]," said Tony Harvey.

Last year, six restaurants around the state raised $24,000 for the Children's Miracle Network. As this year's fundraiser on Feb. 5 neared, the goal was to raise $30,000.

Free stacks of pancakes are given away, and the store requests patrons make a donation.

"Some do, some don't -- it's not required, but we have a donation box sitting out," he said.

Even when businesses give stuff away free or donate proceeds, "it draws attention," according to Harvey.

Call said while fundraising will sometimes bring new faces to the restaurant it also brings a positive energy to staff.

"It brings our staff a lot closer and lets them know we're part of the community and here to help out," she said.

It also makes customers feel good about eating there, Call said.

"It means a lot when you go somewhere and spend dollars and think 'oh hey, I'm helping out the united way, or domestic violence or hospice," Call said.

The bistro is hosting "An Evening with Friends" on Feb. 17 to benefit the United Way of Central West Virginia. The special menu is $55 per person with $25 benefiting the United Way.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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