Chowing down for schools

Gilroy
– In what is a growing trend, a bigger tab at restaurants in
Gilroy means more money into local schools.
Restaurants are teaming up with parent clubs to host
fundraisers, where restaurants offer schools between 10 and 30
percent of the bills from diners who identify themselves as
participants on the day of the fundraiser.
Gilroy – In what is a growing trend, a bigger tab at restaurants in Gilroy means more money into local schools.

Restaurants are teaming up with parent clubs to host fundraisers, where restaurants offer schools between 10 and 30 percent of the bills from diners who identify themselves as participants on the day of the fundraiser.

One of the most actively involved restaurants is Chevy’s Fresh Mex, which has been hosting fundraisers in Gilroy for about five years, said assistant manager Jimmy Pelaiv.

“It’s good because it gets people in here and it helps the community,” he said.

Pelaiv said turnout for the fundraisers usually is high, especially when the school’s parent club members do their part to advertise. Several other restaurants have jumped on board in recent years, including Red Brick Pizza, Chili’s, Maui Tacos, Happy Dog Pizza, Fresh Choice, Papa Murphy’s Pizza, Scrambl’z Diner in Morgan Hill and most recently, Chuck E. Cheese.

Part of the reason restaurant fundraisers are more appealing than more conventional efforts is because eating at a restaurant with family is an enjoyable experience that doesn’t entail the pressure to buy, said Cheryl Galloway, president of Luigi Aprea’s parent club.

To organize a fundraiser, parent clubs contact restaurant managers and work with them to decide on a date. Managers usually are more apt to hold the fundraisers on a weekday as a way to attract customers when business typically is slower.

Depending on how well the events are promoted and how much the restaurant is willing to contribute, the fundraisers can bring in a considerable amount. About two years ago, a fundraiser at Chevy’s, which contributes 20 percent of the bill, reeled in almost $900 for Luigi Aprea, Galloway said.

That amount is on the high side. Red Brick Pizza hosted a fundraiser for Glen View a few months ago that raised about $240, while monthly fundraisers at Maui Tacos for Rucker Elementary have raised just $73 this year, said Rucker principal Steve Gilbert.

“It’s an addition. It’s not substantial, but every little bit helps, and (the restaurants) are gracious to help us with that,” Gilbert said.

Money raised by parents clubs, via restaurant fundraisers, goes mostly for teachers to buy supplies. Parent clubs also help raise money for specific needs, such as athletic uniforms and new benches at Solorsano. Luigi Aprea’s parent club pays the school librarian’s salary, as well as helps fund school assemblies and provides three annual scholarships for students.

“I don’t think a lot of people realize how much parents pay for these days,” Galloway said. “People assume the state pays for everything, but that’s just not the case anymore.”

Tony Mammino, president of Glen View’s home and school club, said the idea of holding fundraisers at restaurants is gaining ground.

“It isn’t necessarily a new thing, but it is gaining popularity, especially in Gilroy with more choices of places to eat popping up all over the place,” he said.

Mammino has been hitting the streets to pitch the idea to some of Gilroy’s newer restaurants, such as New Tung Kee Noodle House.

Glen View also has plans to hold a fundraiser in March at the new Chuck E. Cheese. Rumor has it that Chuck E. Cheese himself will make an appearance at the school the day of the event.

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