C John Wade serves customers at the Royal Palace, helping with the Thai restaurant's tsunami relief program
This week, five Tampa Bay Buccaneer players took a break from their offseason schedules to help those who have been affected by the devastating tsunami that struck Southeast Asia.
On Monday, Nate Lawrie, Ryan Nece, Shelton Quarles, John Wade and Dewayne White waited tables at the Royal Palace Thai restaurant in South Tampa. The Royal Palace is usually closed on Mondays but has opened its doors for lunch and dinner since the tsunami struck parts of Thailand. All proceeds from all Monday meals go to the Thailand Tsunami Relief Fund.
Heading into the fifth and final Monday of this fundraising effort, the Royal Palace had already raised $42,000 for the relief fund.
Randall Knowles, restaurant co-owner, registered in the state of Florida in order to create the Thailand Tsunami Relief Fund, an official charity. The fund operates independently from the Royal Palace restaurant, so fundraising efforts will continue long after the restaurant goes back to closing its doors on Mondays.
"People are going to need a lot more help down the road, and we just didn't want this to be a one month [fundraiser]," said Knowles. "People can still donate [to the fund] in the future."
On February 7, Knowles will travel to Thailand to meet a monk from Kissimmee who will show him around the areas of the country that have yet to receive assistance. The money in the Thailand Tsunami Relief Fund will help rebuild homes and schools in small villages that were ravaged by the tsunami. Knowles said he will be sending pictures and video back to the Tampa area so people can see just how their donation money is being used to help the victims.
For the Buccaneers, waiting tables at the restaurant was a great way to get involved in the relief efforts.
"This is an important event," said Quarles. "What happened to those people was a disaster, and it's important for us to find ways to give back."
Lawrie gained a new-found respect for people who work in the food service industry. He, and his four teammates proved to be versatile additions to the restaurant staff, spending time pouring water, taking orders and seating guests.
"It's fun to see all these people come out and support the tsunami victims," said Lawrie. "Hopefully we can add to the business that comes in tonight."
In addition to the work they put in at the Royal Palace on Monday, several players donated money to the relief fund.
The Royal Palace will be selling raffle tickets all week, with those proceeds also going to the fund. Several winning tickets will be drawn on February 6th, and the lucky winners can win Buccaneer memorabilia, including t-shirts, hats, pennants and even two autographed footballs.
For more information on the Thailand Tsunami Relief Fund, or to donate money, visit the Web site at www.ttrfund.org.