Restaurant Week Toledo to benefit Leadership Toledo youth programs

Published: Feb. 20, 2023 at 6:42 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Restaurant Week Toledo is more than just an excuse to eat great local food; it’s a fundraiser organized by Leadership Toledo to benefit their youth programs.

“We’re teaching kids both hard skills like résumé writing, handshakes, how to dress professionally, and show up to interviews -- those kinds of really important things,” said Leadership Toledo Program Director Nicole Susdorf, “But we’re also talking to them about servant leadership and we’re talking to them about understanding who they are a person.”

The nonprofit offers two youth programs that are open to students from more than 30 area schools. Youth in Leadership, or YLT, is a program for high school sophomores. Youth in Philanthropy Encouraging Excellence, or YIPEE, encourages high school juniors and seniors to involve themselves with and fundraise for local nonprofits.

“YLT really connected me to a lot of students in the area and helped me increase in confidence. Then YIPEE continued on that, but also allowed me to get involved in different organizations throughout the Toledo Area and begin in philanthropy,” said Notre Dame Academy Senior Laura Amezquita. “It’s helped me realize that I have more potential than I ever thought.”

The programs are completely free, thanks to fundraisers like Restaurant Week Toledo.

“We never ever want finances to get in the way of a student being able to participate in our program. So, having the support of our community during Restaurant Week Toledo and the support of our restaurant partners is so important,” Susdorf said.

Restaurant Week Toledo is Leadership Toledo’s biggest fundraiser, raising between $80,000 and $90,000 in past years. Participating businesses donate 3 percent of their proceeds.

“YIPEE and programs like Leadership Toledo give students a beautiful opportunity to learn about their community and become more confident in their place in it,” said Whitmer High School Senior Kyle Swartz.

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