Got a Giving Spirit? Gather ’Round the Table!

It’s the season of giving, but some years, it’s tough. Even in a lean year, you could give a great present if you had a big family and yours was one that pooled holiday gift giving dollars to give one big, wished-for present to each member. That’s what special needs teacher Lauren Snyder of Haddon Township, New Jersey, did for the ICA.

Snyder, our featured ICA Family of Supporters member in the Fall 2009 ICA Update, made our ICA family a lot bigger by gathering friends, family, and community around the table -- tables that is -- at a local restaurant. She told us how she did it so more ICA members can raise awareness and funds and have a great time doing it.

Raising money for worthy causes was already a tradition in her family. Snyder herself had organized charity events when she was in college, so she was eager to do that for the organization that came to mean so much to her after she got IC. Her mother’s school did fundraisers at the nearby Silver Diner in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, so Snyder knew she could tap this restaurant with a giving spirit to do the same for the ICA.

The Silver Diner opens its doors to charity events on two weekday nights. The fundraisers drum up the customers and provide volunteer servers for the event, and the cause gets 20 percent of the

restaurant’s sales after the first $1,000. In addition, organizers can set up a table for education and additional donations. You couldn’t miss the one Snyder set up with the big, bright sign she constructed. She took her imagination to a craft store, found the foam letters and background, painted them in bright colors, and hot-glued them together to create the big sign that attracted restaurant goers to information about IC from the ICA and to the donation box. 

She didn’t stop there. Snyder and her fiancé Michael Farreny went online to design and order 250 awareness bracelets, which helped bring in more donations.

For volunteer servers, Snyder had a pool to recruit from -- literally. In addition to being a teacher, she’s a swim coach, so she drew from the summer league teams. Everyone pitched in, swimmers, friends, kids, aunts, cousins, her fiancé’s sister. Those volunteers, who took shifts waiting tables and sitting down to eat with all the family and friends who came out to support the ICA, got rewarded with T-shirts Snyder made up for the occasion.

That effort raised awareness with family, friends, and strangers who’d never even heard of IC and made them friends of the ICA. Thanks to Snyder’s creative idea, giving spirit, enthusiastic friends and family, and the Silver Diner, the ICA received a generous donation that will go a long way towards spreading the word about IC and finding a cure.

The Silver Diner is helping to lead a growing trend of restaurant fundraising for worthy causes. Many local restaurants as well as national chains and franchises give philanthropic-minded folks great opportunities. Talk to your favorite local restauranteur or check with management at one your favorite local chain or franchise restaurants. Many offer restaurant nights and other fundraising mechanisms such as gift cards and catered dinners. These are just a few of the many that help diners donate for a good cause:


Revised Tuesday, December 29, 2009