Dine Out to help local schools

Jessie DeRose, with Ugly Mug Cafe, makes coffee. Ugly Mug is one of 16 restaurants participating in Dine Out for Education.

Residents can support local schools by eating out Thursday.

Loudon County Education Foundation annually recruits local restaurants to help support Lenoir City and Loudon County schools through Dine Out for Education. LCEF receives 10 percent of the day’s pre-tax proceeds from each restaurant.

“I’m really excited because this year we’re up to 16 restaurants and that’s up from eight from last year,” Michele Lewis, LCEF executive director, said.

A full list of restaurants can be found www.lceftn.org and on page A12 of this edition of the News-Herald.

“My goal is kind of always $5,000,” Lewis said. “That’s what I would like to see the base for any fundraiser to raise at least $5,000. With 16 restaurants, they just have to average about $310 on their contribution back to us for us to make that, so I feel like that’s very doable this year. We have a lot of new restaurants that are involved, we’ve had a lot of new restaurants that have opened up in the county, and so they were excited to be involved this year.”

The fundraiser is normally in April.

“I kind of like it in September,” Lewis said. “The purpose of it is to help fund some of our grants and our scholarships, specifically the scholarships that the foundation funds. We had money that kind of helped cover that, but this money is sort of earmarked for that purpose. It just continues to give us an opportunity to give money out a little later in the year.

Joanna Richardson, LCEF board chairwoman, is thankful for the restaurants participating this year.

“We’re encouraging everyone to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at a Dine Out restaurant and support the local businesses as well as supporting education in Loudon County,” Richardson said.

Ugly Mug Cafe in Lenoir City is involved for the first time.

“It’s just that we like to be involved in our community and helping out the schools. There are few things I feel like there’s a better cause for,” Jessie DeRose, Ugly Mug manager, said. “Just the growth in our schools and helping out our kids.”

Now in its sixth year, Lewis said Dine Out has collected about $12,477.

Run LoCo next

LCEF on Friday wrapped up its annual Banking on Education, Lewis said.

Participating financial institutions were First Tennessee, Citizens Bank, ORNL and Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union. From June 1-Aug. 29, residents purchased $20 tickets to place their name in a drawing for the opportunity to win four $500 prizes. Names were picked Friday at the Lenoir City Schools central office.

“We’ve done really well this year,” Lewis said. “I think we’re going to make our goal for our $4,000 contribution for classroom supplies.”

After Dine Out, LCEF will shift its focus to December’s second annual Run LoCo.

Last year proved successful for a first-year event, Lewis said.

“I mean it was just such a good year that it almost scares you about the second year,” she said. “If we can do as well as we did last year, believe me, it’s going to be a huge success.”

Hopes are to have a regional focus.

“This year we are concentrating a little bit more on a regional pull, and so we already have a signup from Washington, D.C., yesterday, we’ve had North Carolina, so I’m already seeing a lot of people that are signing up from more of a regional pull, which is ultimately what we’ll be going for,” Lewis said. “I mean we certainly want local runners to be involved in our race, but what we really want to do is be able to pull as many people into Loudon County from surrounding states as possible.”