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Cinco Ranch restaurant lends a hand to Compassion Katy

April 1, 2019

Ashli Smith, officer manager at Tobiuo Sushi & Bar at LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch, grew up in the Katy area. So, when it was time to select a charity to benefit from the restaurant’s giving back philosophy, the recipient was Compassion Katy.

“I wanted to make sure we found someone that gives back to the people in the area and Compassion Katy does that,” said Smith.

Compassion Katy partners with the Katy Independent School District and hosts Operation Back 2 School to help students start the school year right. This year’s event will be Aug. 3 at the Merrell Center.

Le Chau, general manager Tobiuo Sushi & Bar, said the main goal of the restaurant and its staff is to give back to the community. “Giving back to the community is so important in life. Whatever you receive you have to give back.”

Smith and Chau presented Compassion Katy a check for $2,012.28 on March 28. Representing Compassion Katy were Sue Hetrick, executive director, and Regina Alexander, director of public relations.

Hetrick said the restaurant made every Thursday in February Compassion Katy Night and donated 15 percent of that’s night’s proceeds to the charity. The employees also added $500 more, she added.

She called it an “awesome, loving restaurant,” and said its fundraising “is way above and beyond.”

“That helps a lot of kids in Operation Back 2 School,” added Hetrick.

Chau said they heard that the charity had a greater need this year and wanted to help.

Hetrick said this is the third year for Operation Back 2 School and it will be the largest in terms of the number of schools and students served. The program will reach 7,000 students at the 17 Title 1 schools in the Katy Independent School District. The first year the program helped students at Sundown Elementary. Last year the program served eight Title 1 schools.

Also helping the fundraising effort is a program that the school district is offering this year called “Change for Change,” which runs through April 5.

“Every Title 1 school has a sister school and the sister school is actually doing a coin drive at the moment,” she said. Hetrick said it’s a way to involve the students. The class at each sister school that collects the highest amount of change wins a popsicle party.

“It’s surprising how far that change goes.” Hetrick said the money collected will purchase backpacks and school supplies for under-resourced students. .

“The difficult task outside of fundraising is communicating the fact that our community has 17 Title 1 schools,” said Hetrick, who pointed to the neighborhood around LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch as an example of a prosperous community.

“We have a lot of Blue Ribbon schools, but we do have 17 Title 1 schools,” said Hetrick, who explained that Title 1 schools have 40 percent or more of the students receiving free or reduced price lunches due to economic hardship. “That’s just a truth of the times.”

After saying that her dream is that one day she’d be out of a job because there is no more need, Chau said he didn’t think that would be happening anytime soon.

Another need for the nonprofit is volunteers.

“All the volunteers that came last year will return this year and we’ll need about 500 more,” Hetrick said. “We’ll need about a 1,000 volunteers to pull this off.”

Visit www.compassionkaty.org for more information.

karen.zurawski@chron.com