When the 2007 Sofa Super Store fire left nine firefighters dead, Mickey Bakst, Charleston’s Grill’s general manager, jumped on the phone and within eight days had organized a 46-restaurant charity dinner. The event, dubbed Dine for the Nine, raised $500,000 for the fallen firefighters’ families. Now, days after the Charleston Massacre left nine Emanuel AME parishioners dead, Bakst has rallied the food and beverage community again.

On Thurs. July 9, 50 restaurateurs and dozens of beverage purveyors will join together for A Community United charity dinner at the Belmond Charleston Place ballroom, and 100 percent of the proceeds will be go directly to the families who lost loved ones on June 17. 

“Can you believe it was eight years to the day of the Sofa Super Store fire?” Bakst says. “I’m heartbroken that this has to be done again.”

But with the heartbreak has come hope and Bakst has been blown away by the response from the community, local and beyond, following A Community United’s launch. 

“It’s gorgeous beyond words. I’ve received emails, texts, Facebook messages, and phone calls from people saying ‘We want to donate,'” says Bakst.

In addition to supporting the event by attending the $200-per-person dinner, A Community United will feature an online auction. Donated auction items include 100 works of art, Grammy Award tickets, and European vacations. Those wishing to donate an item or service can visit http://bidr.co/events/acommunityunited. Silent auction items are also being accepted at the Belmond Charleston Place bell stand. To donate, include the name of the item, value of the item, and donor’s name. If all goes according to plan, auction items won’t be available just to Charlestonians. “We’re discussing putting the items up for national bid,” Bakst says.

Bakst’s goal is to sell 1,000 tickets. Organizers have donated 250 tickets to the Emanuel AME church for distribution among members. Those in attendance will enjoy dinner from the city’s leading restaurants, breweries, and distillers, as well as entertainment from the Mark Sterbank Group and the Lowcountry Voices gospel choir. The evening will also include a program featuring Charleston and AME church leaders. 

Tickets are available at http://bidr.co/events/acommunityunited.

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