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Ninety Nine patrons & pies raise $12,000 for Boys & Girls Clubs
Warwick Beacon photo by Jessica A. Botelho
BIG DONATION: For their 16th annual fundraiser for the month of October, New England and New York Ninety Nine Restaurants raised more than $426,000 for local chapters of the Boys and Girls Club, with $12,000 going to the Warwick braches. Warwick B&G Club Executive Director Lara D’Antuono (left), along with Mayor Scott Avedisian, look on as club member Madison Hemond, 9, smiles after giving Cranston Ninety Nine General Manager Ron Lima a thank you card.

During October, New England and New York Ninety Nine Restaurants helped raise more than $426,000 for local chapters of the Boys and Girls Club, an organization that has a primary mission of servicing youth, and the public school system in the community.

Of that amount, the Cranston and Westerly restaurants donated $12,000 directly to Warwick’s branches in Norwood and Oakland Beach.

B&G Club of Warwick Executive Director Lara D’Antuono told a group of about 100 children Tuesday that the funds are enough to pay for the electricity bills for both branches for a year.

“That means we can put other money for paints and art supplies,” she said.

The children applauded, and Madison Hemond, 9, a fourth grader at Norwood Elementary School, presented Ninety Nine staffers with a homemade card signed by the children during a ceremony held at the Norwood location.

“I felt great when I was giving them the card,” said Madison. A group of club members crafted the card, which was the size of a small poster.

D’Antuono, as well as Mayor Scott Avedisian, greeted the top nine fundraising teams from the Ninety Nine. One hundred and five Ninety Nine locations participated in a fundraising event during October. Servers and bartenders asked patrons to add $1, $3, $5 or more to their bills. If they donated $5, the received a commemorative bracelet. Also, guests were given the option of ordering the “Boys & Girls Club Sandwich” or “Boys & Girls Club Entrée,” and $1 from the sale of each item was donated to the closest Club chapter.

This year marked the 16th annual year the event took place. In 2011, the same 105 restaurants raised $202,000 for the cause. Ray Desmarais, operations director for the Ninety Nine, is pleased they more than doubled that amount this year.

“I’m so proud,” said Desmarais, who is also a B&G board member.

Restaurant general managers feel the same.

“My staff is incredible,” said Jennifer Goraj, the general manager for the location in East Springfield, Mass. “They were all very passionate about it.”

Cranston General Manager Ron Lima, as well as Westerly General Manager Linda Curran, agreed. As noted, they together raised $12,000 for Warwick B&G Clubs.

“I love fundraising and helping the kids out,” Lima said. “It just makes me feel good.”

Curran added, “It feels awesome. It’s such a great cause.”

Because the Warwick locations aren’t intercity Clubs, they rely on fundraisers to keep their doors open. D’Antuono is grateful for the support.

“These guys keep the donations in our town,” she said. “It gives me goosebumps. It’s amazing. We like the kids to know what people do for them so that when they are able to give back, they remember to give back.”

But D’Antuono knows how to give back, as she and Avedisian participated in a guest bartender event at the Cranston location on Oct. 22. They competed to make the most money in tips, agreeing that the loser would get a pie in the face. By the end of the night, they were good sports, as they both got pied, raising nearly $2,000 that night.

“We’re very impressed with what you did for our club,” Avedisian said. “Lara and I got to be a small part of that.”

The October event was one of a handful of major fundraisers the Ninety Nine does each year. During summer months, they rally people to make donations to the Jimmy Fund, as well as the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. They also organize a fundraiser for the Pine Street Inn, a homeless shelter in Boston.

“We raised over a million dollars for those three charities as a company,” Desmarais said. “People just put their heart and soul out there.” He also praised D’Antuono and her staff for being “great mentors” to the children.

In a press release, Ninety Nine Restaurants President John Grady said he is pleased his company is able to lend a hand.

“Each year, the month of October is a special month for us at the Ninety Nine, and this year is no exception,” he said. “We are passionate about our relationship with the Boys & Girls Club as we enter into our 16th year of service to the organization. That passion is evident when you look at the astounding success of our fundraiser, which was made possible not only from our dedicated team members, but our loyal guests who have shown astounding generosity.”

According to the release, each Ninety Nine Restaurant has a relationship at the local level with the B&G Clubs.

“We are involved with almost 70 local chapters of the Boys & Girls Clubs and are very proud to have set a new company-wide fundraising record this year for a cause so important to us,” said Grady. “We sincerely thank everyone who generously donated, as we know these funds will go to encouraging positive youth development and accommodate thousands of youths daily.”

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