BERLIN – As of Aug. 15, United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore’s first Dine United OC competition has raised more than $33,000.
Proceeds from the competition, which ends Labor Day, will go to 74 local programs that focus on education, health and financial stability.
The organization’s Community Impact Committee, a group of volunteers with expertise in business, will allocate the money based on each program’s needs and measurable outcomes.
Although totals have not yet been calculated, United Way Outreach and Communications Manager Vicki Miele says she hopes the competition will reach its $50,000 goal.
However, Miele says any amount in the competition’s first year is a success.
The Dine United OC competition began with The Embers Restaurant and Blu Crabhouse & Raw Bar Vice President Cole Taustin, who came up with the idea after joining the United Way Board of Directors, Miele says.
After presenting the idea to the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association, many local eateries, along with WRDE Coast TV and The Voice Radio Network, came on board.
To raise money, the 22 participating restaurants created special menus, drinks and employee competitions.
Approximately $1 to $2 of each item on these special menus goes to United Way, who then divides the money among the local programs, according to Miele.
Some of these local partners include Meals on Wheels, Imagination Library, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Coastal Hospice, and many more.
All nonprofits must apply to receive funding from United Way.
At the end of the competition, all competing restaurants are invited to an awards ceremony at Blu Crabhouse & Raw Bar, which is located behind The Embers on 23rd Street.
Awards include most creative campaign and most successful campaign, in each category.
All restaurants are divided into categories based on seating capacity.
As of mid-August, The Generals Kitchen is leading the 0-150 seating capacity division followed by the Original Pool Bar & Grill and Manana Mode.
In the 150 to 300 seating capacity category, Happy Jack Pancake House is in first place followed by The Dough Roller 41St Street and The Dough Roller 70th Street.
Harrison’s Harbor Watch is leading the 300 to 600 seating capacity category followed by Blu Crabhouse and Raw Bar and Grotto Pizza.
In the 600-plus capacity, Seacrets is leading the way followed by The Embers and Phillips Seafood on 20th Street.
In 2016, United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore has provided $1.4 million to programs in the four surrounding counties, which impacted more than 77,000 people.
Proceeds from the competition will now go toward this total.
“With the second month of the competition complete, we are blown away by the community’s generousity,” Taustin says in a press release. “Our hope is to reach our goal of $50,000 by Sept. 5.”
The full list of participating restaurants, and their specials, can be found under the “Dine United OC” tab at www.unitedway4us.org.
Any restaurants interested in next year’s competition can contact United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore at 410-742-5143.