As our thoughts lie with the Philippines and the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, a great thing to do is find innovative ways to raise money. One great idea is to hold a charity dinner, which a friend did recently.
By inviting friends over and asking them to bring nothing but a donation, we encouraged people to enjoy themselves but also help the needy. Instead of spreading sad thoughts, a positive spin was put on the dinner as it encouraged people to take action for a necessary cause.
My friend was born in the Philippines, thus the cause was quite meaningful to her. In the spirit of the cause, we ensured the dinner was Filipino themed, but with some Vietnamese food too, as this is her background.
The preparation involved lots of researching, but by putting forward the cause and event, many places are often willing to provide you a discount or something special.
Thus, whilst raising money for the cause we also raised awareness amongst our friends of what Filipino culture and cuisine entails. The feast included BBQ pork skewers from the local Filipino grocery in Mill Park, Anching's & Alegring's Asiamart, with some complimentary skewers and a lechon or whole suckling pig with a slight discount.
For dessert, we discovered a shop in St Albans called Lasang Pinoy, who were happy to provide us with whatever they could offer. Not keen on buying halo halo, a dessert consisting of shaved ice, fruits, beans, yam and more, from the grocery, we managed to order this from Lasang Pinoy, also with some servings for free.
Halo halo with ube (yam) and leche flan (creme caramel) on top
As this cause resonates within the Filipino community, people were very willing to help. Lasang Pinoy was very busy with their own stall at the Philippine Fiesta that weekend, yet their staff managed to make all the halo halo for us and provide a way for us to transport it to the dinner.
Other ideas for a Filipino-themed charity dinner can be inspired by other items at the fiesta - banana cue, deep fried banana in caramelised brown sugar, and gulaman, a sugary drink with jelly/sago, proving quite popular.
Amazingly, for a small, dinner party that was planned in almost less than two weeks, we counted $1500! Adamant to show guests that the money was going to a good cause, the money was donated online on the spot to the UN Refugee Agency Australia for UNHCR, also close to my friend's heart as a former refugee.
Thus, this shows that anyone big or small can make a difference. Get creative and hold a dinner, a concert, a trivia night....anything! Put some research into what charity you think is best, get some organisations or local businesses involved and you can help those in need and encourage others to do so too.