Every morsel supports charity

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Easing hunger pains at many Shelby County restaurants now also means giving local charities a boost as well.

Local eateries such as Jim N’ Nick’s, Olive Garden and Texas Roadhouse have found creative ways to donate to the community.

The Alabaster Olive Garden is one of multiple stores across Alabama supporting the company’s 15th-annual Pasta for Pennies event. The program encourages students at the elementary, middle and high school levels by offering a pasta party to the class at each school that raises the most money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Noralyn Hamilton, executive director of the LLS’s Alabama-Gulf Coast Chapter, said Pasta for Pennies has raised more than $42 million since it began.

“Each penny, nickel, dime and quarter collected through Pasta for Pennies advances our quest to find cures for blood cancers and make a meaningful difference in the lives of those who suffer from them,” Hamilton said in a release. “We look forward to another great campaign with them again this year.”

This year, more than 10,500 students will fill collection jars in their classrooms.

Jim N’ Nick’s in Alabaster gives a part of their proceeds directly to local schools through Spirit Nights. Parents, faculty and students of Pelham High School were encouraged Feb. 3 to visit the store with their student or employee IDs.

Alabaster Manager Tricia Garrett said the restaurant offered 10 percent of their ticket back to the school. She said the company feels that’s the best advertising they can get.

“Our philosophy is that those types of efforts build a stronger relationship with the community, especially the people in our immediate areas,” Garrett said.

Jim N’ Nick’s plans to host another day in September in which they will provide 10 percent of overall sales to support breast cancer research.

This seems to be a trend with local restaurants. But Texas Roadhouse in Pelham gives the effort a unique twist by having local celebrity waiters. Last year, the restaurant held such an event to benefit Kid One Transport and was able to donate more than $4,300.