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Dine out — make a difference

Restaurants band together to support those living with HIV and AIDS



It's been 20 years since Dining Out For Life launched, and two decades later the fundraiser is still going strong.

If you have a meal at a restaurant just once this month, the date to do it is Tuesday, March 25. As of deadline, Aura at Nita Lake Lodge is participating along with Hy's Steakhouse and Quattro. There's a single Squamish outlet getting in on the fun — Match Eatery and Public House at Chances, the gaming centre on Highway 99 at the south end of town.

Sheena Sargeant is the executive director of Friends For Life and she runs Dining Out For Life with Lisa Martella, the executive director of A Loving Spoonful. Sergeant is excited this year about the Platinum Table Program, a little initiative cooked up to mark 20 years.

"We're inviting people to go out and book a table, ideally of 20," says Sargeant.

Once that is done, drop a quick note to indicating you have booked a group at one of the participating restaurants. Sargeant promises someone will show up with gifts for the group. The gift list includes limited edition complimentary 2014 Dining Out For Life wine glasses.

"For our media savvy diners this year we have a contest going on where people can take a picture of their meal, tag the photo #DOFL20 and be entered to win a chance (at) $500," Sargeant says.

The key final step is to publish the photo using a social network so your friends know your supporting Dining Out For Life.

In addition to the cash prize, the organizers are offering some additional prizes, such as official Team Canada hockey gear, and restaurant gift certificates.

More than 100 restaurants are participating in the March 25 event between Whistler and White Rock.

"During that day, restaurants will donate 25 per cent of their food proceeds to Friends For Life and A Loving Spoonful, two organizations working together to support people living with HIV and AIDS," says Sargeant.

A Loving Spoonful feeds men, women and children suffering with illnesses so those who participate in Dining Out For Life are basically feeding themselves so A Loving Spoonful can feed others.

Friends For Life is a wellness centre dedicated to people living with life-threatening illnesses. The centre also offers services for families and caregivers of those with illnesses like HIV and AIDS.

Most years, Dining Out For Life raises around $200,000. That money is split between the two benefiting organizations.

"It makes a significant impact on the work that we do throughout the year," Sergeant says.

So, eat, drink and make a difference.