David Leininger is on the planning committee for Caring Chefs, which benefits the Northeast Florida programs of The Children’s Home Society of Florida. As such, he plays an important role in bringing this Jacksonville tradition back after two years’ hiatus during the pandemic. Here, he tells The Recorder about the event and its importance.
Please tell me about Caring Chefs and how it benefits the Northeast Florida programs of The Children’s Home Society of Florida.
Caring Chefs has been a Jacksonville tradition for 38 years. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we were unable to hold the event in 2020 and 2021. It has previously been held at the Avenues Mall, but this year we’ve decided to move to The Glass Factory, a more intimate location in downtown Jax. Some of the best First Coast restaurants will offer an amazing spread of quality cuisine at stations throughout the Glass Factory venue. You can roam from station to station and feast on a wide variety of dishes and drinks served by local restaurants. It’s always lots of fun.
Tell me about The Children’s Home Society of Florida, what it does and how important it is to children and families — especially here in Northeast Florida.
Funds raised through Caring Chefs will benefit our Northeast Florida programs and help us continue to do good for our CHS children and families. These programs include Early Childhood services, Community Partnership Schools, Buckner Place Teen Parenting and Mental Health Counseling and Services. Our ability to provide all of these and other services is dependent upon private donations to supplement other sources of revenue. To learn more, please visit https://chsfl.org/locations/greater-nefl/
I understand you are on the planning committee for Caring Chefs. What’s involved in putting together an event of this scope?
Many volunteer and staff hours are required to pull off an event of this magnitude. We have committees to recruit restaurants, find sponsors, set up the venue, promote the event and sell tickets. With restaurants facing labor shortages, restaurant recruiting has been particularly challenging this year. We’re extremely grateful for those restaurants that are participating. It’s shaping up to be an amazing event!
If readers are interested in getting tickets or purchasing sponsorship packages, how might they do so?
Tickets, along with information about sponsorships and restaurant participation, can be obtained online at chsfl.org. You can also contact our event coordinator and CHS development manager, Kristina Curre, at Kristina.firstname.lastname@example.org.
How did you first become involved with The Children’s Home Society and Caring Chefs?
I joined the CHS Northeast Florida Board in 2007 and have been a Caring Chefs sponsor and involved with a committee most every year. It’s a great event and benefits an amazing organization that truly makes a difference both in our local community and throughout the State of Florida.
Many people have praised residents of Northeast Florida for their compassionate response to various causes. It’s also a great place to live. What do you like best about this area, and when you speak with people living elsewhere, what do you tell them about our community?
I’ve lived in the Jacksonville area most of my adult life. It never ceases to amaze me how many people here step up and donate their time and money to those in need. I know there are many worthy organizations vying for donations this time of year, but I can personally attest to the fact that Children’s Home Society is among the best and most worthy.
Editor’s note: The 38th Annual Caring Chefs will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 23 at The Glass Factory, 601 Myrtle Ave. North, Jacksonville. For information and tickets, call 904-806-5811 or go to chsfl.org/chefs.
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