One of Palmetto Community Care's HIV tests, which they offer for free, is shown here. The North Charleston agency is one of a handful of places in the area that offers free testing for sexually transmitted infections. File/Brad Nettles/Staff

Nearly five years after suspending its annual Dining with Friends fundraiser, Palmetto Community Care this January is bringing back its popular dinner party program.

“People get bored, so we decided we’d let it rest for a while,” spokesman Jason Kirk says. “But we kept hearing, ‘Where did it go? Are you going to bring it back?’”

The answer is yes, but with a few small changes. Since the nonprofit dedicated to HIV treatment and prevention now hosts a craft beer event in the spring, when Dining with Friends was traditionally held, it’s scheduled its upcoming program for Jan. 19. And accordingly, the dessert reception where attendees gather after their private dinners has been moved indoors. Kirk says the festivities at Memminger Auditorium will have a winter theme.

Otherwise, though, the program remains the same. Hosts sign up to put together a party, which can be anything from a themed potluck to a seated black-tie dinner. During the fundraiser’s first decade, Kirk says, events included backyard picnics and oyster roasts. There is no set minimum donation amount.

“You can do it without going to the nines,” Kirk says. “The point of the evening is to raise money.”

Participating hosts are provided with invitations and forms to facilitate collecting donations, Kirk says. For the first time, all of the materials will be available in both electronic and print formats. “We don’t want to lose tradition, but we’re really moving into the digital fundraising age,” Kirk says. “I don’t check my mailbox more than once a week.”

Money raised through the fundraiser will support Palmetto Community Care’s programs, including a mobile HIV testing service and the distribution of a free or low-cost daily pill that reduces the rate of HIV infection. Both initiatives have emerged since Palmetto Community Care last organized Dining with Friends.

“While the HIV/AIDS epidemic has changed, there are still many people who are touched by this epidemic,” Kirk says. “People are still dying.”

Dining with Friends party hosts are required to register by Dec. 15. For more information, or to sign up, visit

Reach Hanna Raskin at 843-937-5560 and follow her on Twitter @hannaraskin.

Food editor and chief critic

Eating all of the chicken livers just as fast as I can.