Rodney Whitley promised his co-workers he would wear a grass skirt if they raised $1,000. They collected the money and he delivered on his promise during Celebrity Waiter Night, which benefited Children’s Place and was held at more than 10 Aiken area restaurants on Monday.


Whitley was among the employees of Shaw AREVA MOX Services who gathered at Travinia Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar on Fabian Drive. They dined, served food and drinks or acted as hosts. Approximately 300 people associated with the Savannah River Site-based company and their family members filled the restaurant.


“This is my first year doing this and I made the mistake of missing a meeting, so I got volunteered,” said the good-natured Whitley, who is the vice president of project assurance at Shaw AREVA.


He purchased his grass skirt for Celebrity Waiter Night at Party Central in Greenville.


“I had a little commute just to look nice tonight,” he said.


This year’s edition of Celebrity Waiter Night was the 18th.


Children’s Place received $5 for each meal served at participating restaurants, all the tips and the proceeds from a raffle for a pair of diamond earrings. The nonprofit agency’s goal was to raise $85,000 to fund its efforts to help children with significant developmental and behavioral problems.


“It’s a fabulous cause and our employees have embraced it,” said Karen Randall, Shaw AREVA’s communications manager. “Children’s Place does so much for at-risk children in Aiken County. It needs all the dollars it can get.”


Employees of Savannah River Remediation, another SRS-based company, gathered at The Red Pepper in the Centre South Shopping Center. The group, which included workers’ family members, numbered more than 70.


“I have filled glasses with water and ice and pieces of lemon and straws,” said SRR volunteer waiter Dan Wood. “I’m not very good at it, but I haven’t spilled anything yet.”


He had a plan for getting big tips.


“I’m going to have some fun with people and tell them, ‘If you want a knife, it’s going to cost you,’” Wood said.


Nola Grant, who works in human resources at SRR, greeted people near the entrance to The Red Pepper’s patio. She is a Children’s Place Board Member.


“I attended an after-school program at Children’s Place and it changed my life; I became an athlete and a scholar,” she said. “When the people I work with hear my story, they understand how Children’s Place makes a difference, so it means a lot more to them.”


Children’s Place, which is located on Barnwell Avenue, has 94 children in its day program and 48 in its after-school program, according to a press release issued before Celebrity Waiter Night. The organization serves around 37,000 meals annually.