Saturday, February 7, 2004

More restaurants join Mardi Gras food fest benefit



By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COVINGTON - For the first time, Cincinnati restaurants will join their Northern Kentucky counterparts in a Feb. 24 Mardi Gras fund-raiser for homeless children.

"This truly is a regional event,'' said fund-raiser chairman Gordy Snyder,

IF YOU GO
What: Annual Mardi Gras for Homeless Children

When: 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Feb. 24

Where: Northern Kentucky Convention Center, Covington.

Tickets: $40. For information, call (859) 291-NKRA (6572) or go to www.nkramardigras.com. Tickets available at the Drawbridge Inn, Embassy Suites RiverCenter, Hilton Cincinnati Airport, Marriott at RiverCenter, Bethany House Services, Brighton Center, Welcome House and Mercy Franciscan at St. John.

"It represents both sides of the river and benefits communities throughout Northern Kentucky and the Greater Cincinnati region.''

Thirty-two restaurants from the region will offer a night of "gourmet grazing'' at Northern Kentucky Convention Center, Snyder said. He did not identify the Cincinnati restaurants joining the roster.

But the real reason celebrants come is to help the area's homeless children and their families.

Proceeds are divided among:

• Brighton Center's Homeward Bound emergency shelter in Covington for abused, neglected or abandoned teenagers and preteens.

• Bethany House Services in Cincinnati.

• Mercy Franciscan at St. John in Over-the-Rhine, which has temporary housing and shelter mostly for single mothers and children at three locations.

• Welcome House of Northern Kentucky Inc. in Covington, which serves women and children at a shelter and the Gardens at Greenup self-sufficiency program.

"We are networking together, which you don't see in a lot of social service agencies,'' said Ericka Copeland, executive director of Mercy Franciscan at St. John.

The four agencies benefiting from the 2004 Mardi Gras for Homeless Children say the fund-raiser allows them to serve clients three meals a day, or buy groceries for homeless children.

All proceeds help buy food for homeless children, Copeland said.

The Northern Kentucky Restaurant Association started the fund-raiser in 1993, a year after three homeless children died in a fire in Cincinnati.

Since 1993, the event has raised $410,000, including about $60,000 at last year's celebration, organizers said.

This year, sponsors hope to raise another $60,000.

E-mail cschroeder@enquirer.com




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