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National fundraising event leaves a sweet taste in the mouth

Are you aware of an event or project that benefits our community? Contact Anna Ferguson at 770-963-9205, ext. 1308, or anna.ferguson@gwinnettdailypost.com.

Atlanta's dining scene is not as large as, say, the scene in New York City or Los Angeles. But that's not to say the metro culinary community is less than mighty. As far as Taste of the Nation is concerned, it's the exact opposite. Just ask Gary Donlick, head chef at Pano's and Paul's restaurant in Atlanta.

"It's just amazing how many people show up for Taste of the Nation," said Donlick, who has participated in the annual fundraising event for 15 years. "Cities with bigger restaurant scenes can't touch us."

Statistically, the numbers agree, said Amy Crowell, a representative and coordinator of the Atlanta event.

"Atlanta is the biggest participator of Taste the Nation by two times," she said. "That is very exciting."

Now in its 19th year, Taste of the Nation is a national fundraising event for Share Our Strength, a nonprofit organization that works to end childhood hunger and poverty. More than 4,000 of the nation's best restaurants from 70 cities across the country participate each year, and Atlanta's annual event will be held on Thursday.

Nearly 50 of Atlanta's restaurants will dish out samples of their signature dishes at the event. Honorary chair and Food Network chef superstar Emeril Lagasse will be on hand prior to meal time for a cooking demonstration, and both a silent and live auction will be held.

Last year, with about 1,000 attendees, more than $800,000 was raised from the Atlanta event, with all proceeds being donated to Georgia food charities. This year's event will benefit the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Genesis, A New Life and Project Open Hand.

So often, Crowell said, Georgia's hungry children go unnoticed. These are not just the kids who are starving on the street, but children whose parents are in lean times, and simply cannot afford to put food on the table.

"We're not talking about just the homeless kids," she said. "These are kids who, in the summer months, go hungry because they aren't in school to be fed. These are the children who just won't be able to eat, or eat enough, because their parents just can't feed them."

Attire for Taste of the Nation is black-tie optional. Tickets for Taste of the Nation Atlanta are $175 per person, or $275 for VIP tickets, which include the cooking demonstration. The event starts at 7:30 p.m., and the VIP reception starts at 6:30 p.m. The event will be held in the Georgia Aquarium's Oceans Ballroom, 225 Baker St., Atlanta. For more information, visit www.atlantataste.org.

Buford club to

host tour of homes

Buford Lanier Woman's Club will host a home tour from noon to 5 p.m. today. Tickets are $20 at the door and all proceeds benefit the club. Call 770-831-9383 or 678-482-7606 or visit www.bufordlanierwomansclub.com.

Level Creek event raises awareness for art education

Level Creek Elementary School will host "Opening Night ... Masterpieces," on Monday at the school, 4488 Tench Road, Suwanee. The event will feature an exhibition of more than 3,000 pieces of student art and a performance of Broadway hits by the Level Creek Chorus, in an effort to raise awareness about art education. The exhibition is open from 5 to 7 p.m. and the show will begin at 7:30 p.m. Call 404-915-7888.

Golf tournament

to benefit Camp Independence

The National Kidney Foundation of Georgia will host the Chronic Kidney Disease Golf Challenge at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Bear's Best golf course in Suwanee. The tournament will benefit Camp Independence, a week-long summer camp for children suffering from chronic kidney disease. Call 770-452-1539, ext. 11, or visit www.kidneyga.org.

Golfers set

to raise funds

for AID Atlanta

AID Atlanta will host the Shlesinger Memorial Golf Tournament on Wednesday at the Standard Club, 6230 Abbots Bridge Road, Duluth. The golf tournament is a key fundraising event for AID Atlanta, a nonprofit, community-based organization that serves individuals infected and affected by AIDS. Tournament tickets are $1,600 for a foursome, and sponsorship levels start at $1,000. Visit www.aidatlanta.org.

Braves players

to host charity

golf tournament

Atlanta Braves players Macay McBride and Kyle Davies will host the Prevent Child Abuse Georgia Celebrity Golf Classic at 11 a.m. Thursday at White Columns Country Club in Alpharetta. The shotgun start-scramble tournament will begin at 1 p.m. and a silent auction will be held at 6 p.m. Individual sponsor levels start at $250 and sponsorship levels start at $2,000. Call 404-870-6589 or visit www.pcageorgia.org.

Author to speak

at women's

center fundraiser

New Beginnings, a fundraising gala for A Beacon of Hope Women's Center, will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Atlanta Athletic Club, 1930 Bobby Jones Drive, Duluth. Stephen Mansfield, author of "The Faith of George W. Bush," will speak at the event. Tickets are $50. Visit www.friendsofbeacon.com.

Malls, Habitat

kick off campaign

Habitat for Humanity and General Growth Properties will kick off their partnership with Family Portraits from 11 to 2 p.m. Thursday through May 6. The event, featuring an interactive display about the number of people living in substandard housing in their community, will be held at Cumberland, Perimeter, North Point and Southlake Malls. Throughout the year, the malls will engage employees and customers to help build homes, and to participate in fundraising events and other public awareness initiatives. Visit www.habitat.org.

Mercer will host Gospel Jubilee

Ryan's Gospel Singing Jubilee benefit concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Rehoboth Baptist Church, 2997 Lawrenceville Highway, Tucker. The event, hosted by Ryan Mercer, will raise money to help have a computer control installed in Mercer's special-needs wheelchair. The Down East Boys, the Mark Trammell Trio and Tim Sureet are scheduled to perform. Admission is free and an offering will be taken. Call 770-982-8191.

Derby Days to raise funds for children's hospital

Johns Creek Derby Day Party for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday in the Montclair neighborhood, located in Duluth. The event will feature live music, an open bar and traditional derby cuisine. Tickets are $75 and all proceeds from the event will benefit Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Reservations are required. Call 404-785-7337.

Art foundation to hold fashion show on golf course

The Dorian Turner Foundation will host a fashion show and silent auction at 5 p.m. Saturday on the 11th hole of the Country Club of Gwinnett, 535 Golfe Links Drive, Snellville. The event will help raise funds and awareness for the foundation, which works to put art mentoring programs in schools with at-risk students. Tickets are by invitation only, but donations are welcome and can be submitted via the Dorian Turner Foundation, Inc. Web site at www.dorianfoundation.org. Call 404-518-5370.