For the first time in the history of Seattle’s popular Dining Out for Life fundraiser, event organizers have recruited one-hundred times the number of volunteers needed to staff the event, bringing the total number of volunteer applicants to 10,000. Every year, Lifelong, the non-profit that organizes the event, works painstakingly hard to recruit approximately 100 volunteers for the event.
Held on April 30, Dining Out for Life is an annual event in which over 150 Seattle-area restaurants donate 30-50 percent of their daily proceeds to feed those fighting hunger and illness. Volunteers, known as restaurant ambassadors, welcome guests, answer questions and collect donations.
“We’re considering quadrupling up volunteers at some restaurants,” said Jeremy Orbe, Lifelong’s Events Coordinator, sheepishly. “The community has always been so supportive of Lifelong, but this is something else.”
For the past two weeks at Lifelong’s administrative offices in Georgetown, there has been a line out the door starting as early as 6 a.m. to apply in person. Some eager applicants are so determined to secure their place as a Dining Out for Life volunteer, they go so far as to camp out the night before.
“It’s like Black Friday up in here,” says Stu Hidalgo, Lifelong’s Facilities Coordinator. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Staff cannot pinpoint the exact cause of the applicant flood, but speculate that it might have something to do with increasing the number of promotional posters they placed in highly visible locations like the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room as well as Urban Outfitters, both on Capitol Hill.
Volunteers who submit their volunteer application online are following up via email and phone multiple times a week, eager to learn where they are being placed. There are multiple requests to volunteer at the same restaurant, so Lifelong’s events team is working hard to make sure make sure everyone is happy.
Dining Out for Life brings in around $190,000 for the non-profit each year. One-third of that revenue is from donation boxes within the restaurants. Volunteer ambassadors have a critical role in raising that money.
Lifelong encourages people interested in volunteering to still apply. They are signing even more restaurants and wants to be clear that they will find a place for all volunteers.
There are breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night shifts available in restaurants all over Seattle/King County. An average shift takes anywhere from 3-6 hours. Visit DiningOutForLife.com/Seattle for the list of participating restaurants.
All volunteers receive a free t-shirt.