Restaurant community plans major fundraiser for victims’ families

Maggie Kinney of Mount Pleasant, right, comforts Donna Adams of Folly Beach at a July 8, 2007 fundraiser Bakst organized for the Charleston Nine. (Tyrone Walker/Staff)

Charleston Grill general manager Mickey Bakst last week asked dozens of chefs, wine distributors and other local food-and-beverage professionals to participate in a major fundraising event for the families of the Emanuel A.M.E massacre victims. Not one of them refused.

“Everybody said yes, and everybody said, ‘if there’s anything else you need, just ask”,” Bakst says. “It boggles my mind how this community comes together.”

Proceeds from “A Community United” on July 9 will be evenly divided among the nine immediate survivors. In addition to selling 1000 admission tickets, priced at $200 apiece, organizers are putting together a major silent auction. Prospective bidders don’t need to purchase event tickets to participate in the auction, which begins online on July 3.

Items up for bid include a “grand weekend” centered on Wine Spectator’s New York Wine Experience; an Orient Express trip from London to Venice; hotel packages; spa treatments; jewelry and artwork. Bakst assembled the list by soliciting friends and colleagues; he’s asking others who wish to contribute items to submit their donations at the Charleston Place bell stand.

Bakst decided to donate directly to the victims’ families because he believes “it’s the right thing to do.”

“I wanted to do something to say ‘we want you to be well’,” he says.

In order to allow the victims’ extended church family to participate in the event, 250 free tickets will be provided to Emanuel A.M.E.

Bakst in 2007 organized a similar event titled “Dine for the Charleston Nine” to benefit the families of firefighters killed in the Sofa Super Store. About 1300 people attended the gala, which netted nearly half a million dollars.

“A Community United” at Charleston Place is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. In addition to food and drink, the program will feature gospel music. To purchase tickets or register for the auction, visit bidr.co/events/acommunityunited.