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Turning a few bucks into thousands for charity

Author: Thom Pastor, Executive Chef St. Charles Redmond, 5/13/2014 8:30:00 AM

If you had asked me to donate $3,175 to charity in 2013 I would have said, "No." My family was struggling with the impact of cancer. We're still struggling with that today. Still, my wife and I set out to support a friend's MS fundraiser.

We managed to scrape together a few hundred dollars. I figured some creativity could turn that into much more. I thought it would double, but I was wrong. My few hundred dollars turned into a donation of $1,050!

I combined my money, abilities as a chef, and passion for craft beer to auction a beer pairing dinner. Once committed, I told my connections and many people joined in the effort. I received donations of linens, dishes, food and beer to help cover my costs. It was amazing and 10 people enjoyed the best dining experience I'd ever executed.

Facebook carried the word to Gary Bonaker and he asked if I'd do the same for the Tour des Chutes silent auction. Tour des Chutes raises money to support the same survivorship programs that my wife used while fighting breast cancer. I felt honored and pulled out all the stops to create Love Beer, Hate Cancer.

I wrote the menu with help from two co-chefs: Thor Erickson and Michael Harrison. The assistance kept flowing in from Worthy Brewing, Deschutes Brewery, Ale Apothecary, Mission Linen, High Desert Produce, Eberhard's Dairy and more. Roger Worthington even donated the use of his gorgeous home. We ended up serving 20 guests raising a total of $2,125 for cancer survivorship programs!

It took a lot of time to create and coordinate these meals. But it was time well spent. More than raising money for worthy causes, it was a great learning experience.

Giving back need not be expensive. The simple act of committing my limited resources created the momentum to make all of this happen. No matter who you are, you can make a moving impact. It may not be easy, but it's probably not complicated. What are your talents? Who needs your skills or resources? Most want to help – you just have to take the lead.