Macayo's cooks up fundraiser for Haiti relief

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX – The destruction left behind by last month’s earthquakes in Haiti might not be making the front page on a daily basis any longer, but that doesn’t mean the need for our help has passed. Quite the contrary is true. Devastated Haitians, many of whom have been living with little or no shelter since their world fell apart on Jan. 12, need our help more than ever. And, that’s not going to change any time soon.

The Johnson family, the owners of Macayo’s, a popular Valley restaurant since the original restaurant opened on Central Avenue in Phoenix in 1952, understand that. They want to offer that aid, but they need you to pitch in. They're not asking much. All you have to do is enjoy some amazing Mexican food.

On Wednesday, Feb. 3, all 14 Macayo’s locations are taking part in a fundraiser designed to help Haiti in her time of need. On Wednesday, Macayo’s will donate a full 20 percent of all food sales from all of its restaurants to the American Red Cross Haiti Relief and Development. It doesn't matter what you order, only that you order.

The money will support emergency relief recovery efforts in Haiti.

But, the giving doesn’t stop there.

Macayo Restaurants, the founder of which is generally credited with creating the ever-popular chimichanga, is getting ready to launch its Annual Chimi Fiesta. From the Mini Chimi Sampler to the Shrimp del Fugo Chimi to the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Dessert Chimi, here will be six delectable specialty chimis on the Fiesta menu.

The Fiesta runs Feb. 22-March 31, and during that time, $1 from every Bubba Q Pork Chimichanga, juicy pork carnitas marinated in a chipotle barbecue sauce and stuffed into a crisp chimichanga, will go to the Red Cross.

This kind of charity effort is not new to Macayo’s. In 2005, they donated $15,000 to the Red Cross Tsunami International Relief Fund through a benefit similar to Wednesday’s event.

“My father always told us to help support our community in times of need,” said owner Sharisse Johnson. (It’s her father who, according to local lore, created the chimichanga, now a staple in Mexican restaurants throughout the Southwest and the center of the upcoming Chimi Fiesta.)

“His selfless attitude has been one of the driving forces behind our success and strong family culture. The American Red Cross, Haiti Relief fundraiser is our way of giving the Macayo’s Family an opportunity to contribute and give back to the community. It is important for us to pass along the traditions and values that my father developed for Macayo’s over 60 years ago.”

“We are very grateful to everyone who has supported our efforts in Haiti,” said Jerry DeFrancisco, President, American Red Cross Humanitarian Services, in a recent news release about aid which is pouring in from all over the country, including from right here in Arizona. “The American Red Cross has been working in Haiti with our fellow Red Cross/ Red Crescent national societies from around the globe. This generosity allows the Red Cross not only to offer Haiti immediate relief, but also to take part in planning to help the people of Haiti recover and rebuild in the coming years.”

With their one-day event on Wednesday and the upcoming month-long Chimi Fiesta, Macayo’s is part of that relief and future planning. You can be, too, for the price of a meal.

When: Wednesday, Feb. 3

Where: All 14 Macayo’s locations

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