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Restaurant Asks for 'Donations' to Stay in Business and More News

Restaurant Asks for 'Donations' to Stay in Business and More News

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In today's Media Mix, 27 drinks made from coffee, plus 26 food films you should know

This chef is asking for a little help to keep his restaurant open.

Check out these headlines you may have missed.

27 Coffee Drinks: A quick guide to everything you need to know about real coffee drinks, if you want to be snobby about it. [Devour]

Restaurant Asking for Donations: A Tennessee restaurant is asking customers for donations to make ends meet and keep running. They need about $25,000 to stay running. [WATE]

Man Sends Kids to Sell Candy: A father sent three of his kids to sell fruit snacks, alone, through rush-hour traffic. He was, naturally, arrested. [DNA Info]

Food Films to Know: Food isn't all about elBulli or fancy plates; here are 26 insightful food films that you should know (and pass along to food activists). [Food Tank]

McDonald's CMO Steps Down: Chief marketing officer of the fast-food chain, Neil Golden, will leave the company early next year, the second high-profile departure after chief executive James Skinner stepped down last year. [Chicago Tribune]

5 Major Mistakes You're Making When Going to a Restaurant

Restaurants are doing their absolute best to give guests the best dining experience possible during these trying times. However, this is almost impossible for staff to achieve when customers aren't cooperating with them.

Several states are reversing restaurant reopenings in response to a spike in cases, and more often than not establishments that are still operating are fighting to remain open. But, this largely depends on whether or not customers are willing to comply with rules restaurants have made in order to ensure staff remain healthy and safe.

Below, you'll see five mistakes you're making when going out to a restaurant.

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Vitello's restaurant in Studio City asks for donations to survive COVID-19 pandemic

STUDIO CITY, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The owner of a beloved Studio City Italian eatery is asking for donations from the community as the restaurant faces the possibility of closing forever.

Brad Roen, the owner of Vitello's, is begging for help after the announcement that Southern California's regional stay-at-home order is extended indefinitely.

The order means no indoor or outdoor dining at restaurants, leaving Vitello's weeks away from potentially shutting down.

Roen says Vitello's has been in business for more than 50 years and he never imagined he would have to start a GoFundMe page to keep the restaurant open.

"It's really scary because no one knows what's going to happen," says Natasha Pineiro, a server at the restaurant.

Roen says they're basically paying to stay open right now.

That's why they started the GoFundMe page. They're asking people to support restaurants by picking up food or buying a gift card.

The GoFundMe page for Vitello's has raised more than $23,000 and the goal is to reach $85,000. The GoFundMe page is available here.

Sample Letters for Requesting Donations

Sample Letter #1

Letter requesting donation to a charity, working towards the cause of providing proper health and hygiene facilities to children.

Raymond C. Picard
Kids CareNation
1033 Joseph Street
West Allis, WI 53227

Joe J. Casey
4301 Strother Street
Birmingham, AL 35222

Subject: Request for donation to a children’s charity

I, the undersigned, am writing to you on behalf of “Kids CareNation”, a non-profit organization, working towards the cause of providing adequate health and hygiene facilities to the African children. I am the coordinator of the fundraising campaign that we organize every year, to gather funds which can be utilized towards our cause.

You can send in your donation, either by check, or by demand draft, drawn in favor of ‘Kids CareNation, WI’. You may also donate using your debit/credit card through our website ‘’. All the money generated through our campaign will be used to provide healthy and hygienic food to children, especially from African countries where the rate of undernourishment is high. A significant portion of the proceeds will also go towards providing deprived children with adequate medical aid and a cleaner environment. With the help of donations which we received last year, we have been able to make a difference to the lives of about 1,500 children.

I thank you in anticipation for considering our request for donating funds for the sake of underprivileged children. Together, we can make their lives much easier and better. If you have any queries about our organization or our work, please feel free to contact us at the address or the telephone number provided above.

Yours sincerely
Raymond C. Picard

Sample Letter #2

Donation request letter from a non-profit concern striving to provide mainstream education and recreational facilities to unprivileged children.

Bernard I. Smith
Hope Children’s Center
3306 Glenwood Avenue
Shaker Heights, OH 44120

Justin B. Petrie
1190 Valley Lane
Austin, TX 78746

Subject: Request for donation

I am writing on behalf of the “Hope Children’s Center”. Since quite a few years, we have been providing thousands of children in our community with free access to counseling, after-school tutoring, mentoring, and recreational programs. This has been made possible by the numerous generous donations we have received from our aware citizens.

Last year, the donations helped purchase new books for our growing library, and we also started a scholarship fund to aid deserving children pay for their school/college. We also celebrated the high school graduation of 11 of our children 7 of whom began their post-secondary studies during this fall. However, none of this would have been possible without the generosity and support of people like you. This year, our goal is to raise an adequate amount to purchase new sports equipment, and have the outdoor playing field cleaned up and landscaped for recreational use. Studies have shown that children who participate in sports are more likely to succeed as adults. We hope to give this advantage to our children.

We hope you will join us in our mission of educating our next generation, and providing them with recreational amenities. Donations can be made via our website ‘’. You can also send a check payable to ‘Hope Children’s Center’ at the address mentioned above. In case of any queries, do contact us at the email id, &#[email protected]’ or at the telephone number mentioned above.

Thanking you in anticipation.

Yours faithfully,
Bernard I. Smith

Sample Letter #3

Letter requesting the donation of funds in order to help hurricane victims.

Mellissa J. Nolan
Holy Spirit Trust
2538 Goldie Lane
Cincinnati, OH 45214

Kevin M. Rodriguez
647 Langtown Road
Cascade, IA 52033

Subject: Request to raise funds for hurricane victims

I, Mellissa Nolan, am the Senior Coordinator of the “Holy Spirit Trust”. Our headquarters are based in Ohio, and we have branches all across the country. We work for helping people affected by natural calamities in different parts of the country.

The recent hurricane that struck large parts of Virginia has greatly disrupted the lives of the people. Most of them have lost significant parts of their properties as well. Our mission is to help these people reorganize their lives. This is the cause for which we are seeking donations from generous people like you, so that our mission can be accomplished, and we succeed in spreading the message of humanity.

Once again, it is our humble appeal to kindly make a generous donation for the hurricane victims. You can send in your donations through our website, ‘’ or a check in favor of ‘Holy Spirit Trust, Ohio’. You can contact us in case of any queries at the email id, &#[email protected]’.

Thanking you for your generous consideration.

Yours faithfully,
Mellissa J. Nolan

Sample Letter #4

Letter requesting the donation of items for a charity auction.

Cornelius G. Humphrey
Master Builder Design Services
3774 Wilmar Farm Road
Lanham, MD 20706

Patricia J. Shipp
1013 Marcus Street
Tuscaloosa, AL 35401

Subject: Request for the donation of items for a charity auction

The annual charity auction held by “Master Builder Design Services” attracts large crowds every year, and with the proceeds of the sales at the auction, we help in the treatment of cancer patients. We rely largely on our friends like you, who belong to the business community, for the items that are auctioned at the venue.

Your valued donations will not only benefit us, but will also earn you a lot of goodwill that will result from your generosity. You can thus be a part of our program that aims to help the people affected by cancer, by paying for their treatment. Together, we can serve the cause of humanity by saving lives.

You will be shortly contacted by someone from our committee, to discuss further details relating to the donation. We appreciate your generous support and for believing in us and our mission.

Yours sincerely,
Cornelius G. Humphrey

Sample Letter #5

Letter asking for a sponsorship donation for an event.

Damian P. Williams
Artist Fusion
2497 Harrison Street
Oakland, CA 94612

Chester C. Sanders
369 Better Street
Lenexa, KS 66219

Subject: Request for an event sponsorship donation

Like each year, in 2013 too, “Artist Fusion” is organizing its much-awaited annual event featuring folk artists from all across the globe, who will exhibit and sell their creations at the venue. Our aim behind organizing the event is to bring more and more folk artists to the forefront, and to provide them with the exposure that they deserve. Our motive is also to save some of the dying folk arts.

This is an out-and-out no profit, no loss charity event, and hence we need your esteemed support for the same. We hereby request you to be a part sponsor of the event, and support our cause. As a sponsor, your banners will be placed at strategic positions at the venue, and there will also be verbal announcements of your products.

Thank you for your consideration and we hope that we can count on you for the support of our cause. Our representative will shortly get in touch with you regarding the same. If you have any queries in the meantime, feel free to call us on the telephone number mentioned above or on the email id, &#[email protected]’.

Thanking you in anticipation.

Yours faithfully,
Damian P. Williams

Once the donor makes a payment, do not forget to send him/her a thank you letter along with the acknowledgment/receipt of the donation. This adds to the transparency of your transactions. Later on, also let your donors know how the funds donated by them were utilized, and what the results were. This might encourage them to make further donations to your organization.

Disclaimer: The identities used in this article are fictitious. Any association with actual people, is purely coincidental.

Stevens Point business reacts to new mask guidance

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) - If you’re fully vaccinated, in most cases you can finally take off that mask according to new guidelines from the CDC.

It’s become a habit for most people to walk indoors and put on a mask, but now at places like El Mezcal in Stevens Point, wearing a mask may soon be a thing of the past for customers.

However, workers are still required to wear them at El Mezcal.

“It doesn’t matter even if we get fully vaccinated, we’re still gonna wear a mask because some customers, they’re uncomfortable and some customers are comfortable with the masks,” Owner Adolfo Melendez said.

Melendez said about 90% of his customers wear a mask, but with the new CDC guidance, his restaurant isn’t making customers wear them unless they want to.

“I’m not gonna say to a customer ‘well you gotta leave because you don’t got a mask,’ you know, sometimes I’ll tell them ‘oh just rush it up and take a seat, we’ll take it from there,’” Melendez said.

The CDC’s guidance said masks are still recommended for crowded places such as airplanes, buses, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said there’s nothing wrong with still wearing a mask, if desired.

“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with an individual who has a certain level for risk aversion, as we know the risk is extremely low, of getting infected if you’re vaccinated,” Fauci said.

The Wausau Police Department explained in a Facebook post that “a privately owned business can set rules for their business and as expectations change, some may continue to ask for masks.”

The police department asks to respect each business’ rules such as at El Mezcal where Melendez said his staff will wear masks until the CDC says it’s OK for everyone to ditch the masks.

“Half of us are vaccinated, and even though we will be fully vaccinated, we’re still going to wear masks to make comfortable of the other people,” Melendez said.

Feds investigating alleged illegal donations to Collins’ re-election bid

The FBI is investigating what it describes as a massive scheme to illegally finance Sen. Susan Collins' 2020 re-election bid, Axios has learned.

What's happening: A recently unsealed search warrant application shows the FBI believes a Hawaii defense contractor illegally funneled $150,000 to a pro-Collins super PAC and reimbursed donations to Collins' campaign. There's no indication that Collins or her team were aware of any of it.

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Collins helped the contractor at issue, then called Navatek and since renamed the Martin Defense Group, secure an $8 million Navy contract before most of the donations took place.

Former Navatek CEO Martin Kao was indicted last year for allegedly bilking the federal government of millions in coronavirus relief loans.

What they're saying: "The Collins for Senator Campaign had absolutely no knowledge of anything alleged in the warrant," Collins spokesperson Annie Clark told Axios in an emailed statement.

The big picture: Federal prosecutors say Kao used a shell company to funnel $150,000 in Navatek funds to a pro-Collins super PAC called 1820 PAC.

According to the FBI, Kao and his wife set up a sham LLC called the Society for Young Women Scientists and Engineers. Navatek then wrote the LLC a $150,000 check, investigators say, which was passed on to the super PAC.

Government contractors are barred from donating to federal political committees, and investigators suspect the donations were attempts to evade that prohibition.

Investigators say bank records also show that Kao illegally reimbursed family members who donated to Collins' campaign and that Navatek reimbursed some of Kao's colleagues for their contributions.

That's known as a "straw" donation, and it's prohibited by law. The Collins campaign's fundraising solicitations also require donors to certify that they are in fact donating their own funds.

The allegedly reimbursed donations came in clusters, according to federal contribution records, between June and September 2019, and amounted to less than 0.2% of the Collins campaign's total fundraising.

The warrant application quotes an email exchange between Kao, who had just maxed out to Collins' campaign, and the senator's Maine finance director: "If you have friends or family members that would be willing to donate please don’t hesitate to send them my way," the Collins staffer wrote.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with comments from Collins' spokesperson.

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US CDC investigates reports of heart inflammation in young Covid vaccine recipients

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Mailers, money and a church’s politics: How some North Texas school board races are ‘drawn into the vortex of the culture wars’

6:30 AM on Apr 26, 2021 CDT

Highland Park residents recently opened their mailboxes to find flyers slamming a school board candidate because he put a Black Lives Matter sign in his yard.

Ahead of the May 1 municipal elections, some North Texas school board races have taken on a tenor infused with huge amounts of cash, political divisiveness and dog whistles evoking national wedge issues.

For more than a year, trustees have been at the center of some of the country’s most heated debates: People have packed into meetings to decry mask mandates — or to demand they remain in place. They’ve come to say schools should be reopened to 100% capacity — or that they must be closed completely to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They’ve testified that teachers should never talk about Black Lives Matter — or that districts must be more active in dismantling systemic racism.

These high-profile debates made board members better known to their communities and considered with a more political slant, experts say.

While technically nonpartisan bodies, school boards have long dealt with questions that come with big political implications, including desegregation, said Donald Kettl, a professor at the University of Texas’ Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.

The difference now is that society has become so polarized and almost every question has become political, Kettl said.

How trustees feel about mask mandates and public health guidance becomes a reflection of their political attitudes. And local elections held so soon after the latest presidential contest give candidates the opportunity to play to those already active in both parties and mobilize voters in what are often low-turnout races.

A candidate in Keller ISD, for example, took to Facebook to fend off a claim that he was affiliated with QAnon, a group associated with unfounded conspiracy theories. In McKinney ISD, one of the candidates helped form a group devoted to unmasking children. She took legal action against the district over the matter.

“There’s a base out there to be tapped into for both the left and the right and a set of dog whistles and sort of key phrases or terms that might be useful in trying to galvanize that base,” Kettl said. An example is Black Lives Matter.

Perhaps because of that shift, some residents say this year’s trustee elections brought out the uglier sides of their communities as huge amounts of money flowed, political action committees formed and political consultants joined in campaigns.

“It’s yet another arena of our public life that will be relentlessly politicized and drawn into the vortex of the culture wars,” said Matthew Wilson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University.

School board seats typically are not the most glamorous of elected positions.

But in their unpaid jobs, trustees are responsible for hiring the superintendent, approving the budget and setting countless other decisions involving personnel, facilities and district policy.

Many trustees interpret their roles differently and attempt to exercise greater control, former Houston ISD Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra said.

“Others, and I’ve experienced this over the years, really want to get involved and basically micromanage in the district,” Saavedra said.

It’s not a new phenomena for trustees to be minutely involved in district affairs, but it becomes more complex when they incorporate their political agendas, experts say. And recent months have created an ample opportunity for polarized debates in school boardrooms.

In both Carroll and Highland Park — two wealthy, mostly white areas — much of the discussion during the school board elections has been on diversity issues.

Flyer criticizes Highland Park school trustee candidate for supporting Black Lives Matter

A flyer, which was circulated by a PAC linked to hotel magnate Monty Bennett, attacked Highland Park ISD candidate Doug Woodward for displaying a Black Lives Matter sign, labelling him a “New Jersey liberal,” although he left the state after high school. It contrasted a darkened photo of him with a smiling Kelli Macatee, describing her as a “Christian Conservative Texan.”

Woodward said it’s unfortunate that allegations about his beliefs keep coming out of left field, including falsely saying he supports unisex bathrooms.

Macatee said she was not aware of the flyer before it was circulated and would never have approved of it.

The mailer touched a raw nerve.

Near the start of the COVID-19 crisis, some Highland Park families formed a vocal group known as Park Cities Parents Unite to argue against mask mandates. It soon began weighing in on other controversial topics and blasting out its opinions in mailers and emails.

The group recently uploaded a video of Woodward, dubbing him “Diversity Doug.” It also mass-emailed parents last week saying “Woke Politics” have infiltrated the schools and circulated flyers decrying “cancel culture” in the classroom.

The group’s president, Spencer Siino, said it formed long before the school board election, but that many residents who support its goals also support Macatee. Siino donated $5,000 to her campaign, but the nonprofit itself is not endorsing a candidate.

“I imagine the temperature gets raised wherever you challenge the status quo, and that’s particularly true in the Park Cities, TX,” he wrote in an email.

Overall, Macatee has raised more than $42,000, initial campaign records show, far more than what any candidate raised during the last contested election in that district. She says her donations come from a wide range of people in the community. Part of her funding has gone toward paying two political consulting firms, including one with a record of riling up a school board race.

Among the central issues listed on Macatee’s website is: “DIVERSITY — We MUST NOT engage in racism for the sake of diversity.”

The plan — which would mandate the district hire a director of equity and inclusion, establish a grievance system through which students can report discrimination and require cultural competency training — was cast by opponents as “reverse racism.” They accused the district of trying to form “diversity police,” even as students pleaded that it was necessary to help end the discrimination they faced at school.

As the plan sits in limbo, trustee candidates have positioned it as a debate over the future of Carroll ISD. District 5 candidate Hannah Smith described the plan as a hindrance to free speech while opponent Ed Hernandez said the community knows the plan won’t be implemented and should move past the fear-mongering.

In District 4, Cameron “Cam” Bryan claimed the plan would cause more divisiveness in the district while Linda Warner said there’s a need for an alternative to a plan rooted in a lengthy student code of conduct.

Tarrant County pastors are getting involved with the race. Two pastors from Gateway Church stopped short of endorsing candidates but reminded congregants of the members who were running for election — including Bryan for school board. They went on to encourage churchgoers to vote.

Tarrant County pastors use pulpit to remind members to vote, listing candidates who are church members

Another church was forced to distance itself from the Southlake race after a woman called members — identifying herself as a congregant — and encouraged them to vote for Bryan and Smith, saying they must be elected because they stand against “critical race theory” and in support of “freedom of speech and religion.”

Money has also flowed into the Carroll race. Southlake Families PAC — which describes itself as “unapologetically rooted in Judeo-Christian values” and backs Smith and Bryan — raised more than $57,000 in the early months of 2021 and reported having nearly $140,000 cash on hand.

Bryan and Smith reported raising more than $50,000 each from January through late March. Meanwhile, Warner raised more than $24,000 and Hernandez reported $3,400 in political contributions over the same period.

It can be hard to tell if the notable financial support in these races is the impetus for or result of political polarization, said Kettl, the UT professor.

“It’s both cause and effect in a way that the most successful way of raising money is to tap into some of these deep-seated opinions and, on the other hand, the money tends to follow those who advanced those opinions,” Kettl said.

Viola Garcia, president of the National School Boards Association, said it’s important to remember that children are listening to the rhetoric engulfing these races.

“Our students are actively participating in the conversations that adults are having across our country,” she said.

For example, a coalition of Southlake students dedicated to making their district more inclusive has spent months encouraging older students to register to vote and is endorsing Hernandez and Warner.

“Take a moment to think about what kind of progress you would like to see in Southlake for future generations,” the students wrote on their Instagram page.

Stay connected to the latest in education by signing up for our weekly newsletter.

The DMN Education Lab deepens the coverage and conversation about urgent education issues critical to the future of North Texas.

The DMN Education Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative, with support from The Beck Group, Bobby and Lottye Lyle, The Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Dallas Regional Chamber, Deedie Rose, The Meadows Foundation, Solutions Journalism Network, Southern Methodist University and Todd A. Williams Family Foundation. The Dallas Morning News retains full editorial control of the Education Lab’s journalism.

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"Didn't help us": Guy Fieri calls out Jeff Bezos for not donating to relief fund for food workers

By Ashlie D. Stevens
Published May 1, 2021 2:16AM (UTC)

Jeff Bezos and Guy Fieri (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)


Food Network star Guy Fieri claimed that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos did not contribute to an emergency relief fund that the honorary Flavortown mayor formed for out-of-work restaurant employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Fieri said he launched the relief fund soon after the pandemic began because he was angry at the way local restaurants were left out of the handling of the national health crisis and associated government relief efforts.

"I don't get pissed or lose my sh*t," he said. "But I was pissed."

Most of the small, local restaurants that would have appeared on his long-running Food Network series "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" likely only had enough money in the bank to last 10 days amid government-mandated shut-downs and reductions of services, Fieri told the Hollywood Reporter.

"[Fieri] decided to ask his business manager for contact info for CEOs of major corporations," the article said. "He drafted personal emails to power brokers like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, soliciting donations for an emergency relief fund that would ultimately award more than 43,000 grants — of $500 each — to out-of-work line cooks, servers and other restaurant professionals."

Food Network President Courtney White said there was no better salesman than Fieri.

"There's a power to his enthusiasm," she said. "It gets people to rally around his vision, whether it's a pitch for a show or in raising all that money."

Fieri went on to receive large donations from PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble and Uber Eats.

"I'm not into shaming people and telling who didn't donate," he said. "That's not my style."

However, after a pause, Fieri revealed to the publication that neither Bezos nor Amazon had rallied around the cause.

"Jeff, by the way, didn't help us," he revealed.

Regardless, Fieri has raised more than $25 million for food workers left unemployed by COVID-19 closures over the last year. He also co-directed "Restaurant Hustle 2020: All on the Line," a documentary that premiered in December and highlighted four chefs trying to stay in business amid the pandemic. A sequel is planned for this summer.

Ashlie D. Stevens

Ashlie D. Stevens is a staff writer at Salon, specializing in culture and food.


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