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Dining for Dollars continues goal of funding scholarships in the area

By Kelly Terpstra,

Whether it be by phone, through the mail or seated at a table enjoying a gourmet meal, the donors to Charles City Area Dollars for Scholars make an impact.

Since 1996, Dollars for Scholars has been awarding scholarships to Charles City High School seniors and most recently soon-to-be high school graduates in the area as well.

There were more than $40,000 in scholarships awarded last year, said organizer Kim Wendel.

Now in its third year, this year’s fine-dining event will be held at the Elks Lodge on Friday, Feb. 28. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m.

Scholarship amounts will range from $500 to $3,000 this year, said Wendel, and will go to students participating in any post-secondary educational endeavor — four-year colleges, community colleges, beautician schools, mechanic schools, online courses, etc.

The money is distributed in the second semester post-high school, she said.

“Business and individuals from Charles City make that possible. That’s where our money comes from,” she said.

Wendel said that in prior years a “phone-a-thon” took place to generate donations. Sponsors or contributors also sent money through the mail to help create the scholarships for several years.

Charles City High School seniors as well as local area seniors who are home-schooled or who attend the Floyd Gospel Lighthouse Academy are eligible to fill out an application for a scholarship.

Wendel said up to 60 students usually apply.

The goal of the Dining for Dollars event is to raise funds for the scholarships, but also to increase awareness of opportunities for financial benevolence.

“We just really want to make sure people know who we are,” said Wendel.

The meal will feature homemade cavatelli with marinara and/or homemade garlic sausage, and will be put together by Shawn Benningsdorf, head chef at the Aposto restaurant in Des Moines.

The culinary skills of Charles City alumni Cory Wendel, Kim’s son, will also contribute in the kitchen.

Cory Wendel’s sister, Cady Mead, will be working alongside the two chefs with her Comet Cafe students from Charles City High School. Mead is the family consumer science teacher at the high school.

The meal will include a charcuterie tray. A Tuscan salad with heirloom cherry tomatoes, pickled onion, fried shallots and garlic fennel vinaigrette dressing will be served prior to the entree.

Dessert is lemon panna cotta with raspberry coulis.

After the meal, entertainment will be provided by the Charles City High School Speech Department.

“We’re not sure what they’re going to do,” said Wendel. “We will be surprised also.”

A silent auction will be held and led by auctioneer Jared Hegtvedt. Erik Hoefer will emcee the event.

Anyone who donates at least $250 for a scholarship will see that matched.

Wendel noted that attendance at the past two Dining for Dollars has sold out.

Charles City Area Dollars for Scholars is an affiliate of Scholarship America, a national organization that aims to increase the number of students receiving scholarships and the amount of scholarship monies awarded to local students.

Since the program’s inception, Charles City’s local chapter has awarded $263,765 to nearly 623 graduates of the Charles City Community High School and the Carrie Lane Alternative High School.

Tickets to Dining for Dollars can be purchased at the Charles City Chamber office or by contacting Wendel at 641-330-9430.