Photos and story by Chris Stone
The luckiest place to be Friday in San Diego was STAR/PAL’s Celebrity Waiter Luncheon. San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman was giving away “Get Out of Jail Free’” cards.
Well, she didn’t actually give them away. Rather she was seeking donations, and, yes, it was only a Monopoly card with a tiny police badge attached.
But it was all for fun as hundreds of people attended the 15th annual STAR/PAL Celebrity Waiter Luncheon, a fund-raiser to provide services to “underserved” and at-risk children in San Diego. Organizers said the event raised “well over $150,000.”
Attendees made donations for autographs, photos taken with a Padres or Chargers player, being served lunch by a police officer, firefighter, city official, athlete, SWAT team member or coach at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation.
And then it got creative.
Alvenesia D. Sims got Chargers outside linebacker Colon Underwood to give her a piggyback ride around the room for a $20 donation.
“That was awesome,” said the administrative generalist for the Jacobs Center.
Most fans lined up simply asking for an autograph or photo.
Others paid $10 to get their photo taken with a Shaquille O’Neal shoe (size 22).
But the generosity of the attendees was evident when people bid $3,700 to get five hours of training with a SWAT team (and a day with them) and spent similar large sums to get special treatment at Charger and Padre games.
The mission of STAR/PAL is to “to empower underserved youth to build a safer and more prosperous neighborhood by engaging with law enforcement and collaborative partners.”
Its free youth programs include leadership development, choosing healthy lifestyles, violence prevention, athletic skills training, mentoring and civic engagement.