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2008 The Year in Review: Charitable offerings

Restaurant companies large and small showed the generosity that comes naturally to those in the hospitality industry this year, either by donating proceeds to charitable causes or hosting events to raise awareness for philanthropic issues. Below is a snapshot of funds raised or events held during 2008.

DAIRY QUEEN raised $4.5 million in one day for the Children’s Miracle Network. During Miracle Treat Day, the company donated proceeds from sales of its signature Blizzard from Dairy Queen locations throughout North America. The initiative raised money for 170 children’s hospitals, and the chain has raised more than $77 million dollars for the cause since 1984.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation received several hundred thousand dollars from two chains, APPLEBEE’S and RITA’S WATER ICE. Three large franchisees of Applebee’s, led by Newtown, Pa.-based The Rose Group, got donations for the pediatric-cancer research foundation through the sale of paper lemons. This year The Rose Group reached a total donation of $1.2 million to the organization since 2005. With this year’s $520,000 gift, Rita’s three-year total reached the $1.5 million mark.

APPLEBEE’S also won the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Neighbor Award for the state of Georgia for the second year in a row. Applebee’s 40-unit franchisee in Atlanta hosted fundraisers, rewarded kids for joining reading programs and put on a golf tournament to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

The annual RUTH’S CHRIS STEAK HOUSE Sizzling Celebrity Golf Classic, led by a Baltimore-area franchisee, raised $314,000 for the Maryland Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The annual event has raised more than $2.2 million to date.

CHILI’S GRILL & BAR raised more than $6 million during its fifth annual “Create-A-Pepper to Fight Childhood Cancer” campaign for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, bringing its total donation to more than $25 million to date, the largest total sum from a single corporation in the history of St. Jude’s.

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, MORTON’S THE STEAKHOUSE had a yearlong partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation called “30 Wishes for 30 Years,” with a goal of funding 30 wishes for the foundation, which serves children with life-threatening illnesses. Initiatives included a 30th anniversary menu and asking staffers to volunteer 30 hours.

Z’TEJAS SOUTHWESTERN GRILL held its second Operation Turkey Day at its Austin, Texas, unit. The restaurant served Thanksgiving meals to 300 U.S. soldiers and family members from nearby Fort Hood. GOLDEN CORRAL continued to honor the U.S. armed forces with Military Appreciation Mondays. During the program’s previous seven years, Golden Corral donated more than 1.8 million meals to soldiers and more than $2.5 million to Disabled American Veterans.

PANDA RESTAURANT GROUP committed $1 million to disaster relief in China and Myanmar this summer.

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