PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Thousands of community members came together to eat at various restaurants and eateries cross the Coachella Valley Thursday as part of Dining Out for Life, a fundraiser helping the Desert AIDS Project (DAP). About 70 restaurants participated in the event according to organizers.
Last year, about $200,000 was raised and this year organizers had a goal of $220,000.
Bill Sanderson, an owner of Townie Bagels Bakery Café in Palm Springs, made one of the most generous contributions as his eatery was donating 110 percent of proceeds to the DAP. He said the fight against AIDS and HIV was a cause he could get behind.
“We’ve always given to AIDS charities,” Sanderson said. “When we lived in San Francisco we did, so when we moved here...we sought out DAP and we have been supporting them since we arrived in the Valley.
His eatery was also the place to kick off the event with the first customer coming in at around 6 a.m. when the doors opened. Kara Saxwold said it was an honor to be the first one and was glad to have the chance help out the DAP.
“Our community supports them a lot,”’ she said. “It’s not easy for the working person to always go to the fundraisers so it’s an easy way to contribute.”
Other places that participated included the coffee shop, Ristretto in Palm Springs, which donated 100 percent of its proceeds.
“This is just a great way for us to support the community and invite people in town to come and eat and enjoy,” Richard Laferriere, manager of the shop, said.
Steve Kaufer, chair of the board for DAP, said the generosity of the community would go a long way in helping patients that are dealing with either HIV or AIDS.
“These are lifesaving services, particularly the health care and the drug services,” he said. “They really make a difference in so many lives.”
One customer was happy to stumble upon the event at the bagel shop.
"It's always good to learn about new causes that a lot of people are aware of, but to be educated in it, it's such a great feeling,” Casmir Joy Olaivar, said.