Give back during Dining Out For Life Thursday, May 2

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Get coffee on your way to work, take a friend out for brunch, pick up sandwiches for the office, bring the family for dinner or enjoy a late-night cocktail with a date. With over 100 participating restaurants, there are endless ways to have fun and support your St. Louis community during the 26th annual Dining Out For Life. At least 25 percent of every bill at participating area restaurants will be donated to support St. Louis Effort for AIDS (EFA).

EFA Director of Development James Lesch has been producing the fundraiser for two years and had volunteered for the previous six years, so he’s familiar with how impactful the fundraiser can be.

“A big reason why Dining Out For Life is so successful is that we let people reinvent the event every year,” he says. This is where having 100 participating options comes into play. People can decide what they want, be it wings and the game on TV or charcuterie and a bottle of wine, or both. “Every year, people make it their own.”

The event has raised over $4 million nationally while remaining committed to helping individual communities help themselves by focusing donations on local charities with strong footprints in the communities they serve. Last year, St. Louis raised over $150,000, all of which stayed in St. Louis, benefitting EFA. By keeping donations local, Dining Out For Life presents a way to connect with the community and give something positive back, all while munching and sipping on local favorites.

This money can have a huge impact in the hands of an organization like EFA that provides comprehensive services not only to people living with HIV/AIDS but also those who are at risk.

“We do everything from testing and prevention to treatment at our clinic, and we pride ourselves on the fact that we treat people regardless of their ability to pay,” Lesch said.

Dining Out For Life plays a crucial role in the ongoing work of EFA.

“It is our largest source of unrestricted funds,” he said. “This type of fundraiser allows us to be more responsive to our community’s needs. All you have to do is eat out. How big the event is comes down to how many people come out. It’s filling the restaurants that makes the event a success.”

Click here for the full list of participating restaurants.

James Boeckmann is an editorial intern at Sauce Magazine. 

Sauce Magazine is a sponsor of Dining Out for Life.