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Applebees diners support tutoring for kids
Brian Luttrell and Wes Chamberlain bring out plates of food for customers Tuesday evening. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

Wes Chamberlain knows how much fun it can be to participate in the Tip-a-Firefighter event. 

For the better part of the last decade the Manteca Fire Department Engineer has spent one night out of the year prowling through Applebee’s and doing everything from bussing tables to delivering food – making sure that “the boot” ends up full by the end of the night. 

And he definitely knows the benefits of the fruits of his labor. 

As a board member for Give Every Child A Chance – the beneficiary of the event – Chamberlain gets to see not only the community come out and support the organization, but where the money goes once its collected.

“People want to come out and enjoy a great dinner because they know that it’s going to a great cause,” Chamberlain said. “It really does give every child access to the tutoring that they may need regardless of their socioeconomic standing; not every parent can afford private tutoring because it can be really, really expensive. 

“This organization provides that, and events like this help raise awareness and money to make that possible.”

Roughly 20 firefighters were on hand Tuesday night to help make the event possible – from Chief Kirk Waters and Battalion Chief Kyle Shipherd to the new reserve hoping to carve out his place in the department. 

And their support, according to GECAC Executive Director Carol Davis, has helped not only keep the event running for more than a decade but also helped to promote awareness for what has become one of the community’s most beloved and supported non-profit programs. 

Last year the Tip-a-Firefighter event brought in just under $1,000, but Davis said that events such as the one on Tuesday mean more than just the money. 

“It shows the community that we have support for programs like this from people like the firefighters, and every year there are people that come to the restaurant that didn’t know about the event or the organization and they see that and they learn about it,” Davis said. “It shows that people as respected as the firefighters know and support who we are and what we are and it gives some visibility. That goes a long way, and we’re happy to have that kind of support. 

“You look around and you can see how many people are here tonight.”