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Help by the mouthful

IHOP hosts National Pancake Day to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network and Children’s Hospital

Posted: February 25, 2009 1:05 a.m.
Updated: February 25, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Four-year-old Alexander Farrell, of Valencia, enjoys free pancakes at the International House of Pancakes on Bouquet Canyon Road Tuesday morning.

 
Red-and-yellow hot-air balloons symbolized free food and charitable donations Tuesday at IHOP’s National Pancake Day celebration.

Restaurant servers nationwide dished up hundreds of free “short-stack” breakfasts and encouraged customers to donate the money they would have paid for the fluffy flapjacks to the Children’s Miracle Network.

Staff at the IHOP on Soledad Canyon Road kept busy greeting guests, serving tables and collecting donations from customers who wrote their names on the balloon-shaped paper cutouts.

Hostess Patty Diez taped several autographed cutouts to the wall behind the register that already displayed more than 100 by 11 a.m.

“Each balloon represents $1 that people donated,” she said. “Every dollar is like saving a life and helps out for ventilation, oxygen, machines, etc.”

Donations collected in the Los Angeles area went toward helping kids at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

The IHOP on Soledad Canyon Road prepared to serve hundreds of customers and staff expected business to be as busy as a weekend day, said assistant manager Imelda Chavez.

“They don’t even need to purchase anything, but we would love for them to donate money for this great cause,” she said.

Many customers visited IHOP specifically to order the three-pancake short-stack breakfasts and donate their money to help sick kids.

“We saw it on the news and we decided to support it,” said 17-year-old Courtney Ross as she waited with three friends to be seated.

“We’re hungry! I think we should support those less fortunate than us.”

Juan-Pablo Echaiz, a special education instructional assistant at Valencia High School, brought several of his students to participate in the fund-raiser.

“I think it’s a good way to get the kids into the community,” he said.

The event gave students a chance to give back, said instructional assistant Mika Cooper.

“I wanted them to see how they could donate to other people who are in need while also enjoying it,” she said.

Other customers found out about the fund raiser by default.

“I saw a sign and swerved into the parking lot,” said 22-year-old Dan Smith as he dug into his stack of pancakes.

Server Daniel Valdovinos encouraged people who weren’t aware of the fund-raiser to order free pancakes and donate money, he said.

“I’m just giving a smile and saying, “Thank you for supporting the children,” he said. “They’re like, “what children?” so I explain to them.”

IHOP officials hoped to raise $1 million nationwide for the Children’s Miracle Network through the breakfast fund-raiser.

Last year, the chain raised more than $875,000 and served more than 1.5 million pancakes during National Pancake Day.

“It’s going to help a lot of children,” said General Manager Yolanda Rubalcaba. “It’s a good thing for us to do.”

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