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A coupla chefs in Orange County started the "Round It Up" movement, have raised half a million bucks for good causes in a few months,. and now it's arrived here.

The Round It Up America concept is simple. Give patrons the opportunity to round up their restaurant bill to the nearest dollar with proceeds benefitting various dedicated charities. This new model of fundraising is aimed at couch cushion change, not hefty donations at charity balls or special food events,.(My long-distance telephone service, Credo, works the same way, and collects loads of money for good. Also makes reconciling my checkbook a whole lot easier, without those bothersome "$.99s." and ".79s".)

Here, it's being kicked off by the Cohn Restaurant Group, which will serve as the first official “Mission Partner” of the RIUA, launching at The Prado Restaurant on July 19th. The Cohn's contributions will go to the Balboa Park Trust.

I hope this idea will spread. It's a lot gentler on the purse and more democratic than those huge, expensive charity eataramas (which sometimes devolve into genteel pushing-shoving matches to get to the hottest chefs' booths) frequented by local socialites. A few cents here, a few cents there, it adds up in a good way.

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