The COVID-19 pandemic altered everything. Working from home, virtual distance learning, social distancing, no large gatherings, restrictions when dining out and shopping. COVID-19 touches every part of our lives. And while challenging, safety is of the utmost importance.

But even in an upside-down world, change can present the opportunity to do good for others.

Restaurants and retailers, especially your local favorites, need your help. In 2019, the restaurant industry was one of Texas’ largest, employing about 1.3 million people, generating $70 billion in sales and paying an estimated $4.6 billion in taxes.

Today, restaurants have lost nearly three times more jobs than any other industry, which means 700,000 jobs and $4.2 billion in lost revenue in Texas. These losses will impact the entire Texas economy for years.

The Galveston food service industry, bonded together as an alliance with community engagement, will weather this storm and will still be here once the state of our economy settles.

The food service industry isn’t the only one that needs help; local nonprofit charity organizations need help, too. Gone are the fundraising galas that help supply them with much-needed funding.

Not only did they lose their major fundraisers, but their services are needed now more than ever.

Domestic violence, hunger and food insecurities and declines in community health and wellness are rising rapidly. Together, we can do our part to help — we can Dine Out for Charity.

The Galveston chapter of the Texas Restaurant Association, in partnership with Galveston Convention & Visitors Bureau, The Galveston County Daily News and Yaga’s Entertainment, is hosting the Dine Out for Charity event through Oct. 4.

This promotional effort will raise money for charitable donations to local groups.

Our goal is to help those who feed, support and promote our community’s children and families’ health and wellness during need.

Additionally, we’re inviting people to visit our island in a time of canceled fall and winter festivals.

This event is a wonderful opportunity for visitors to enjoy an incredible culinary adventure and support the community as if by attending one of our festivals.

To participate, each restaurant will offer three lunch and three dinner menu items with an automatic additional donation amount included. This modest amount will range from $1 to $5 (restaurant’s choice).

Diners have three ways to contribute: They can opt to participate and order from the event menu; they can order from the regular dining menu and donate via the QR code on the event poster; or they can donate from home through our event website: txrestaurant.org/events/dine-out-charity.

Charitable organizations to receive a donation from this event are The Grand 1894 Opera House, Galveston County Food Bank, Ronald McDonald House of Galveston, Resource & Crisis Center of Galveston County, Family Service Center of Galveston County and Teen Health Center.

Please join us for Dine Out for Charity, and you can help your favorite local restaurants help those in need when they need it most.

James Clark is the director of operations and a managing partner at Mosquito Café and is also the president of the Galveston Restaurant Association.

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