Operation Creekside, the nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting members of the military, is holding Grazie Op from 5 to 9 p.m. at the restaurant. The event features a DJ, guest speakers and free entrees (with proof of service) for military members and veterans.
“This is a great spot (in The Streets) with lots of visibility, and we think it’s going to be a successful event,” said Ed McClelland of Operation Creekside. “We’re a small group that relies heavily on donations, but helping the troops that are protecting our very freedoms is a big job.”
The faith-based organization ships care packages to troops stationed around the world, boxing up such non-perishable items as popcorn, granola bars and almonds. Over the past five years, the group has shipped more than 2,200 boxes abroad, but at $12.95 per box, the project takes money, and it is fundraisers such as Grazie Op that help offset the costs.
Attendees are invited to bring a non-perishable food item the day of the event, or if they can’t attend, drop off the food item in a receptacle in front of the restaurant.
According to Grazie! Grille owner Darius Mahallati the idea to host the fundraiser came from one of his employees who is an active-duty member of the military.
“We have a gentleman who works on our security team and he asked us if we would be interested in hosting this event,” said Mahallati, who is also donating $250 to Operation Creekside. “And we said we would absolutely love to do it. But it’s not about Grazie! It’s about the service members, and we are just happy to do our part to make this a successful event for the troops.”
Operation Creekside has recently begun to expand its reach in the form of Camp Tuolumne, an outdoor retreat located near Yosemite Valley. The camp is used primarily as a haven for children with special medical needs and their families. A few months ago, Operation Creekside hosted its first camp session for eight veterans, their families and service dogs. Fundraisers such as Grazie Op are helping to make the camp a reality.
“It’s called Tuolumne Trails/Operation Freedom Paws and it is a retreat for veterans and their families to teach them how to train their own service dogs,” said McClellan. “This (camp) is going to be a model for people everywhere to get these camps going … With over 40,000 troops with varying needs, we need to be supporting them in everything they do in every way we can.”
For additional information or to make a donation, call Operation Creekside at 925-260-5423.