Prevent Child Abuse hosts celebrity night

Published 9:38 pm Wednesday, March 21, 2012

An event next week will allow local residents to order around members of city and state government, the police chief and even their local newspaper editor — all for a good cause.

The 30th annual Celebrity Night for Prevent Child Abuse Hampton Roads will be held on March 29 at 11 restaurants around Hampton Roads, including the Historic Obici House on Sleepy Hole Road in Suffolk. All celebrity tips and a percentage of restaurant receipts will be donated to the organization for its work in awareness, education and prevention of child abuse.

The event has been held at Suffolk restaurants before but is returning this year after a brief hiatus.

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“We’re happy to be back in Suffolk because we always get great support in Suffolk,” said Teresa Villorente, celebrity night volunteer coordinator. “We have a great list of celebrities going out there.”

The preliminary list of volunteers to serve includes Delegate Chris Jones, Mayor Linda T. Johnson, Councilman Mike Duman, Police Chief Thomas Bennett and even Suffolk News-Herald Editor Res Spears, in addition to other local businessmen, beauty queens and other personalities.

Though the night will be full of fun and good food, child abuse in the area is a very serious issue, Villorente said.

“It’s been a tough year for the kids in Hampton Roads,” she said.

In fiscal year 2011, 10 children died as a result of child abuse or neglect in Hampton Roads — about 32 percent of the state’s 31 such deaths.

In the same time period, 14,829 calls were made to report the abuse or neglect of a child in Hampton Roads. More than 1,000 caretakers were found guilty of physical neglect or abuse, sexual abuse, medical neglect or mental abuse or neglect.

Prevent Child Abuse America estimates that child abuse costs the nation more than $258 million each day.

The goal for the event is to raise $30,000 to fund Prevent Child Abuse Hampton Roads’ programs, including support of organizations that work with families, training sessions and other educational resources. It is the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

The Historic Obici House restaurant, 4700 Sleepy Hole Road at Sleepy Hole Golf Course, will take reservations for a 5 p.m. seating and a 7 p.m. seating on the night of the event.

To make a reservation, call 538-0336.