By Johnny Jackson
Several businesses in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport community are pooling resources in an effort to raise funds for a College Park preschool.
Organizers of the first Taste of the Southside are planning an event to benefit The Learning Academy of College Park, a five-year-old, non-profit, Christian preschool that serves children in communities around the airport.
The event, to be held from 4 to 9 p.m., on Aug. 29, at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park, will include about 10 area restaurants offering sample foods and beverages, ranging from $1 to $5.
Restaurants scheduled to participate include: Malone's Steak & Seafood, Longhorn Steakhouse, Proof of the Pudding, Simon's Steaks & Seafood, Giovanni's Italian Kitchen, Fina Italian Bistro, East Fusion Spirits & Food, O.B.'s Bar-B-Que, the Hapeville Dwarf House and Manchester Arms.
"We are truly grateful to the restaurants that have enthusiastically agreed to participate and help support The Learning Academy," said Fred Delawalla, president of Restaurant Management Group, one of the event's organizers.
Taste of the Southside is also being sponsored by various other organizations, including 97.1 The River, radio station; Gas South; AirTran Airways; The Coca Cola Co.; Georgia Power, and the Airport Area Chamber of Commerce.
"We are truly gratified by the great show of support from the community, and encourage everyone to come out, enjoy some great music, eat some incredibly good food and have a wonderful time," Delawalla said. "It's an event that is great for families, couples or individuals - and everyone is welcome."
The event will be admission free and will be broadcast live on 97.1 The River, with music by the band, Brookwood Split.
Organizers said they hope to raise as much as $10,000 for The Learning Academy through the sale of food and beverage samples.
"There has been a need to generate funds to help keep the cost down for parents who do send their children to the school," said Meredith Hodges, vice president of external affairs for Gas South, a co-sponsor of the fund-raiser.
"We try to be a presence in the community in which we serve," she said. "This was a good fit for us to try to do some work within the community to help the local economy.
"This has been a joint effort," she said. "We would love to have everybody come out and experience new restaurants, and be supportive of our local economy. We're certainly hoping this will become an annual event."
Funds raised at the event, Hodges added, will likely go toward capital improvements to The Learning Academy's building.
"The community outreach program felt the need for it," said Martha Padgett, director of The Learning Academy of College Park. "Being a nonprofit, there are a lot of things that we'd like to do [with the funds] to support the community."
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