Three local charity organizations — the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic, Salvation Army and Starkville Habitat for Humanity — will compete for a $5,000 donation during March’s Starkville Restaurant Week.
The three organizations were picked after a nomination process yielded almost 500 individual submissions, Greater Starkville Development Partnership CEO Jennifer Gregory said.
This year’s SRW is scheduled for March 13-22. Partnership organizers expanded its timeframe to 10 days in an attempt to cash in on March’s college baseball series between Mississippi State University and the University of Alabama, a weekend that could draw large crowds to Starkville’s various restaurants.
SRW was launched in 2013 as a way to bring Mississippi residents who live within a 60-mile radius — about an hour’s drive — to the city in order to promote Starkville’s growing culinary scene the week after MSU’s spring break, a stretch of time that historically produces sluggish dining and retail sales figures.
A charity aspect allows organizers to estimate how many diners visit participating restaurants: Diners vote for one of three nominated charities to receive the $5,000 grand prize donation. The second- and third-place charities also receive donations of $1,000 and $500, respectively.
Cadence Bank returns as the grand prize sponsor, while two new sponsors are represented this year: Vollar Law Firm (the $1,000 Golden Plate Award) and Scrub-Ville (the $500 Silver Spoon Award).
“Each year, we are very excited to see the diversity of our charity nominations grow and to learn more about the different organizations who serve our community,” said Jennifer Prather, the Partnership’s special events coordinator. “We have three very deserving local organizations on the ballot this year, and we look forward to promoting the positive work they do in Starkville and the surrounding area.”
The ADDC operates under MSU’s School Psychology Services Center and serves about 70 clients each week with assessment — autism spectrum disorder diagnoses — and intervention services for areas including pre-academics, social skills and disruptive behavior. It receives funding through patient fees as well as through donations. Patients’ ages range from infants to adults.
Although the Salvation Army’s impact is felt globally, the local chapter serves Oktibbeha, Webster, Winston and Choctaw counties. The organization provides assistance to those in various forms of need, including displacement from disasters, fires or other major catastrophes. The local chapter generates revenue through its annual Kettle Campaign, retail proceeds and other fundraisers.
Starkville Habitat for Humanity volunteers build new homes and provides no-interest mortgages to low-income families who need a decent place to live. The organization maintains an open-door policy for volunteers and those who are in need by serving all races and religions.
More than 30 local restaurants participated in last year’s event, which yielded 16,228 certified ballots for the charity aspect.
A similar number of participating restaurants is expected for this year’s restaurant week.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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