Aiken fuses together for 29th annual celebrity waiter night


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Aug 20, 2023

Aiken fuses together for 29th annual celebrity waiter night

Since 1995, Celebrity Waiter Night has been an Aiken tradition that brings

Since 1995, Celebrity Waiter Night has been an Aiken tradition that brings community members together for a special cause – to help at-risk children and families in Aiken County through the Therapeutic Child Care program at Children's Place.

A United Way of Aiken County agency, Children's Place has made it their mission for over 50 years to protect, heal and strengthen children and families from the impact of trauma and other adverse experiences through education, treatment and prevention services.

Taking on the role as Celebrity Waiter Night 2023 Co-chairs are Keyatta Priester, community development manager of Aiken Electric Cooperative, and Gail Diggs, city councilwoman and director of outreach and community services for Rural Health Services.

"I personally know several children that received services through this program who are now successful adults and advocates for Children's Place," Diggs said. "I know this organization's worth and believe in their mission."

Priester and Diggs were recently with Children's Place Director Peggy Ford at Fuse earlier this month in preparation for the upcoming event on Monday, May 15.

Fuse, hosting Celebrity Waiter Night for the third consecutive year, is excited to be involved with the 2023 event. The downtown restaurant was one of the highest earning restaurants in 2022 – bringing in nearly $5,000 for Children's Place with the help of celebrity waiters from Maxwell Law Firm.

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions raised the most funds for the nonprofit last year with a drive-thruh to-go service at Newberry Hall.

Chris Najmola, more fondly known as "Chef Naj" and the owner of Fuse, is excited to host again this year.

"If anything we can do helps one child deal with a traumatic event in a healthy way, it's worth it," Najmola said.

The generosity of community members like Najmola and others who support Celebrity Waiter Night ensures the continuation of Children's Place's Therapeutic Child Care program.

The funds raised through the event provide behavioral therapy, mental health counseling and occupational and speech therapy to vulnerable children who are struggling on behavioral, emotional and social levels. The program, one of only two in South Carolina , serves children ages 18 months to 5 who have experienced childhood trauma and other adverse experiences.

Celebrity Waiter Night has grown from a mere two-restaurant fundraiser that generated $3,000 in its first year to a community-wide event that provides critical funding of more than $100,000 toward the organization's $2.8 million annual budget.

In addition to Fuse, other local venues committed to hosting Celebrity Waiter Night include Casa Bella, Feed Sack, Grumpy's Sports Pub, Malia's, Newberry Hall, Tailgate Tavern, The Alley Downtown Taproom, The Village Café and Whiskey Alley in Aiken and Sno-Cap in North Augusta.

In 2022, Celebrity Waiter Night raised $111,630 to support the nonprofit's Therapeutic Child Care program.

"The children and families we serve are future citizens of Aiken County – your neighbors, employers, and vital members of our community," Ford said. "Equipping children and families with the tools and skills to heal and grow from adversity not only gives them hope for the future, but it makes our community as a whole stronger."

For more information or to get involved, call 803-641-4144.

Casa Bella

Feed Sack

Grumpy's Sports Pub


Newberry Hall

Tailgate Tavern

The Alley Downtown Taproom

The Village Café

Whiskey Alley


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