SCHENECTADY — A crowd flocked to State Street on Wednesday night to gorge themselves for a good cause.
A number of Schenectady restaurants and businesses joined together for Schenectady Serves, a fundraiser held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Residents meandered down State Street for a bite to eat and free entertainment, while raising money for victims of recent natural disasters.
Proceeds will go to communities in East Texas, the Florida Keys and Puerto Rico, which are recovering from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, respectively. The money is being sent to local organizations that will be able to make a direct impact for affected residents, said Philip Morris, CEO of Proctors, which helped organize the event.
Attendees paid $5 to receive a ticket, which could be redeemed for a dinner item from Nico’s Rooftop Tavern, Mexican Radio, Aperitivo Bistro, Johnny’s or Rivers Casino & Resort. Each business provided its own specialty item, and those passing through could also make additional donations.
To get food from multiple businesses, patrons had to purchase multiple tickets, and one $5 ticket was good for two soft drinks.
The goal for the event was to raise $25,000, Morris said. Organizers likely won’t have a final tally of donations for a couple of weeks, he said.
By about 5:30 p.m., hundreds of people had already come through the downtown corridor. Organizers expected the crowd to grow as residents got out of work for the evening.
The event was modeled after a 2016 event called “Schenectady Loves Italy,” in which city businesses raised roughly $17,000 to be donated to victims of an earthquake in central Italy.
In that instance, Morris said, he reached out to the Mallozzis and the Mazzones, two families with Schenectady-based catering and dining operations, about putting together a fundraiser. A few weeks ago, Morris said, the two families asked if a similar event could be organized in response to the hurricanes.
Last year, the fundraiser was planned in about five days, while this year’s event was in the works for roughly two weeks, Morris said.
He praised the local business community, which sprang into action to aid victims of natural disasters.
“These businesses are volunteering and giving up their dinner business for tonight,” Morris said.
Fundabilities, a company housed in the New York BizLab on State Street, worked to collect the donations. Transfinder, whose CEO oversees the BizLab, was also a sponsor of the event, Transfinder public relations director and managing director of the BizLab Rick D’Errico said.
“It’s all about helping others,” D’Errico said of the willingness of numerous city businesses to assist with the event. “It’s not just about Schenectady. They just see where there’s a need, and ask ‘how can I help?’ That seems to be the mantra.”
A previous version of this story misidentified Rick D’Errico’s job titles. He is the managing director at the New York BizLab and public relations director at Transfinder.