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Grad students, restaurants join in Haiti fundraiser

BY MICHELLE HILLENBRAND | APRIL 19, 2010 7:30 AM

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Some University of Iowa graduate students are hoping to capitalize on hungry patrons in an effort to raise funds for relief efforts in Haiti, still reeling from the devastating earthquake that struck three months ago.

Beginning today, the UI Graduate Student Senate will host “Dine Local, Help Haiti,” a weeklong Restaurant Week series. Local restaurants — one each day through April 25 — will donate a portion of their daily proceeds to UNICEF’s Haiti earthquake-relief effort.

Months after the deadly earthquake in Haiti, event organizers said many Haitians are still in need of support.

“It was a really bad disaster,” said Kristina Rogers, the Graduate Student Senate President. “And they are still trying to raise funds for it.”

While the Graduate Student Senate Service Committee usually holds fundraisers for the Crisis Center, the group was interested in doing a fundraiser for Haiti, Rogers said.

Members of the group canvassed downtown Iowa City with fliers and a letter explaining the event, approaching various restaurants about participating. Rogers said the managers and owners they brought on board were excited to help the cause.

Liz Sanders, the manager of Hamburg Inn No. 2, 214 S. Linn St., said she thinks the restaurant is representing the values of its patrons by getting involved. The restaurant will participate on Tuesday from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

“We are kind of a staple in Iowa City,” she said. “We like to do things to give back to the community, and of course, in a way we are giving back to the world. We are trying to represent the people who come in and give back all we can.”

Blackstone, 503 Westbury Drive, will take part in the event from 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday.

“We are really excited to help such a great cause,” said Erik Shewmaker, the restaurant’s manager.
Blackstone management signed on to the event after being approached by a UI professor who frequents the restaurant. The eatery will donate 5 percent of Saturday night’s profits to UNICEF’s Haiti relief efforts.

Since the Jan. 12 earthquake struck Haiti, the Iowa City community has hosted a number of benefits and fundraisers that have raised thousands.

A January luncheon hosted by the UI College of Law garnered nearly $4,000 toward disaster relief. The UI hockey team contributed funds by selling jerseys in February. Local bands sponsored a benefit concert for Doctors Without Borders, a medical relief organization.

Late last week, organizers of the “Runway for Hope” fashion show donated their proceeds to benefit a Haitian orphanage.

Groups and citizens worldwide have donated more than $800 million to relief efforts in the country, according to a New York Times report from last week.

The “Dine Local, Help Haiti” event will begin Tuesday at Oasis Falafel, 206 N. Linn St., from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.


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