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According to the NRA, participating state restaurant associations choose two winners from their state (a multi-unit operator and a single-unit operator) to compete for the national award. A national panel of judges meet in Washington, DC, in August to select two national winners, each of whom receives $5,000 to support their community programs. The judging panel also awards a "Cornerstone Humanitarian Award" to an individual who has gone "above and beyond" to support their local community.
Applicants must be involved in a community program or have their own project that has a strong impact in their community, either through funds raised or direct volunteer involvement. Factors taken into consideration included how the restaurant and/or its staff involved as well as the goals of the project and have they been reached.
Eat N Park was chosen as a 2001 winner in the multi-unit operator category. The following is a review from the National Restaurant Association.
Employees of Eat‘n Park will do almost anything for the Children’s Hospital Campaign: take a pie in the face, camp out on the roof, play "midnight bingo." Some of the operation’s fundraising events are downright silly, yet there is a very serious goal at stake: providing healthcare for sick children, regardless of their families’ ability to pay.
Since its inception in 1979, Eat‘n Park’s Children’s Hospital Campaign has become a fundraising tradition. With 76 restaurants and more than 7,000 employees in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, the Eat‘n Park company has leveraged its resources to make a far-reaching, measurable difference in the lives of thousands of children. The company’s Park Classic Diner concept, with a "retro" theme reminiscent of the 1950s, lends itself to a fun, family-oriented campaign.
Each year, beginning in mid-November, every individual restaurant launches a five-week campaign to support its local children’s hospital—the more creative, the better. The Corporate Support Center supports the restaurants on multiple levels, from communicating with each restaurant’s campaign co-chairs to sponsoring a friendly competition for most funds raised. Additionally, sales of merchandise featuring the company’s signature "Smiley Cookie" benefit the campaign, and top fundraisers are invited to a special recognition dinner held at one of Pittsburgh’s top fine-dining establishments.
Successful annual events launched by individual Eat‘n Park restaurants include a raffle for a new car, a wrestling match, and an immensely popular pie-throwing contest. At the the Lindle Road Eat‘n Park, employees Pat Kehew and Rita Landvater have established a yearly tradition of "camping out" on the restaurant’s roof, braving the cold to benefit kids. In 1999, they spent 65 consecutive hours on the roof, accumulating a total of $5,555. Totals raised by events at each Eat‘n Park location typically range from $1,500 to more than $20,000.
Over 21 years, Eat‘n Park’s Children’s Hospital Campaign has contributed more than $4 million to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh alone. In 2000, the campaign’s grand total—contributed to nine different children’s hospitals—was $263,520.