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Posted on Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 11:38 a.m.

Special event Tuesday night at bd's Mongolian Grill to benefit an unknowing family

By Angela Smith

Danielle Hughes believes in paying it forward. Hughes is the marketing coordinator at bd’s Mongolian Grill in Ann Arbor. She’s worked there for 6 years, and says if she had to describe her colleagues at Mongo in one word, she would use charismatic. “They all bring so many personalities to the table; it’s really like a big family, there is so much loyalty.”

One example of that family loyalty will be evident tonight at bd’s Mongolian Grill, at 200 S. Main St.

Hughes is hosting a now annual fundraising event, where staff members have the opportunity to donate their earnings towards a cause that is important to them. The servers and grillers, who earn $2.65 and $8.00 respectively, will be donating every dime of the tips they collect while working on the evening of the fundraiser. Their tips will help purchase gifts for local families and children, explains Hughes.

“Last year we adopted everyone from the Saint Louis Center in Chelsea, and in past years we have adopted up to 5 families at a time.”

This year the staff is raising money for Saint Louis Center and working to support a family with a 6-year-old patient at Mott Children’s Hospital. The child has a life-threatening illness, but Hughes did not want to give more details —“It’s a surprise; they do not know we are doing this.” Hughes said she got word from a friend about a situation that could benefit from the restaurant’s support. Mongolian Grill likes to help people who might not have normally been found, but are still is in a position to need help, according to Hughes.

Hughes said this year the corporate owners of bd’s Mongolian Grill also are getting involved. “The owners are coming in and want to start events like this in all stores.” Bd’s Mogolian Grill has eight locations in the metro Detroit area, all of which are corporately run.

The corporate owners will be contributing to the fundraiser, and also will be offering their thanks to patrons who dine at the fundraising night. A 25 percent friends and family discount will be given to anyone who asks for it during the event.

Hughes wants people to know, however, that this is not a marketing strategy. “We are doing this out of kindness, it was born from tragedy.

Hughes knows first-hand how the efforts of the Mongolian Grill staff can make a difference. Four years ago, when the restaurant hosted the first event of this kind, the beneficiary was Hughes and her family.

“My brother passed away three weeks before Thanksgiving (in 2008),” she said. “My fellow co-workers, bosses included, came together, hosted an event and donated all tips to my family to pay my parents mortgage for two months.”

“They were floored,” Hughes said of her family’s reaction to the restaurant’s generosity. Her brother died in a motorcycle accident on Nov. 7, 2008, but his body was not found until the next day.

Hughes said the support from the community was so welcomed, particularly from Mongolian Grill. “People have this idea of restaurant workers, but they are really resilient; they just care. Turning the tragedy into a chance to give back to the community is something that Hughes is passionate about. “It’s a fun event as many of our family and friends come to donate and eat dinner together,” according to Hughes.

This year Hughes said she is hoping to attract more patrons, “I want to spread the word to people in Ann Arbor as I know how much this town cares for their community.”

The event is Dec. 4 from 5 to 10 p.m.