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Hooters Tries to Do Good Works By Selling Lots of Chicken Wings

February 8, 1995

Some may think Hooters restaurants, with their skimpily clad waitresses, are the devil’s doing, but the Rev. Charles Infelt thinks they’re a godsend.

Every Wednesday this month, the three Chicago-area Hooters will donate to the Rev. Infelt’s Holy Family Lutheran Church half of what they take in selling spicy chicken wings. The money will go to buy supplies for the church’s elementary school for underprivileged kids.

Hooters has already donated $15,000 to the church-sponsored school over the past two years. But to help boost sales this week, the restaurants are planning something special on Holy Family’s behalf: They are bringing in several 1995 Hooters Calendar Girls to sign autographs, among them former Playboy Playmate Lynne Austin, now a Hooters spokeswoman.

``It has been invaluable for our operation,″ Pastor Infelt says of Hooters’ contributions. ``I have to be very, very careful,″ he adds. ``Some people don’t know about Hooters. Anybody who has been there knows it’s legitimate. I checked it out.″

The Rev. Mr. Infelt says his church’s relationship with the restaurants began after he learned that Hooters was donating proceeds to some schools in Florida, where it is based. Perhaps to soften its controversial image, Hooters encourages restaurants to help in local charity drives. ``Hooters likes to give back to the community wherever they get an opportunity,″ says a spokeswoman for Hooters of America.

Pastor Infelt says that the church’s school of 115 children needs to raise more than $200,000 a year and that much of it comes from corporate donations. Holy Family, with a congregation of about 400, is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Hooters’ support hasn’t been a contentious matter within the church, according to its pastor. ``We’re not asking people to go there,″ he says. The Rev. Mr. Infelt says he wasn’t aware of the pinups’ appearance at Hooters. Nor, it seems, is he particularly eager to spread the word.

``I live in a larger Lutheran world,″ he says. As for those who think that Hooters exploits women, he says, ``We try not to get into that side of life. We just accept their money. We don’t evaluate. Our role is to be gracious and thankful. I don’t want to get into negative thoughts.″

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