Fourth-year students Maraiaah Keeping (left) and Alison Wert (right) helped with the raffle activity and darts game. Photo credit: Huijun Li

While a warm island breeze did not sweep through Restaurant International at Algonquin College on the evening of April 12, the bouquets of faux tropical floral decorations made it almost feel like one did.

Fourth-year students in the bachelor of hospitality and tourism management program hosted the Aloha Akua charity dinner, raising funds for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation and transforming the H-building into an inviting Hawaiian haven.

“This is our final project for graduation,” said Alison Wert, a fourth-year hospitality and tourism management student, reflecting on the purpose behind the event. “We choose a party theme and partner with a charity for a joint dinner. It’s a tradition that has been going on for years.”

At the entrance, guests were presented with traditional flower leis. They then proceeded to the photo area to pose with Disney characters Lilo and Stitch which were dressed up by the students. The resulting Polaroid pictures, complete with guests’ names, were then stuck up at the entrance to make a photo wall.

The evening’s agenda included a raffle for prizes from sponsors such as the Fairmont, the Westin and the Beer Store.

Attendees also enjoyed games like darts and balloon-tying. A three-course meal, prepared by Algonquin’s culinary students, emerged as the evening’s highlight. Each course offered a selection of dishes accompanied by Hawaiian-inspired mocktails and beer pairings. The appetizer, main and dessert courses provided three, three and two options, respectively.

“One part of us is responsible for catering the dinner and hosting guests, while the other part ensures the event runs smoothly. It’s a collaborative effort,” said Maraiaah Keeping, another student from the same program. “For example, we’re in charge of the darts game today.”

Following the dinner, Tricia Ross, manager of events and community engagement at the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, spoke about its goals and unwavering support for cancer patients and the community.

“We chose the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation in January when our semester began,” said Isabella Granati, a fourth-year hospitality and tourism management student and the host of the night. “We specifically chose this charity as we had learned that they are accommodating and a joy to work with, which was entirely true. We were very happy with the attention given to us throughout the event to ensure we had the right resources for our audience. Not to mention, the cause of the charity is something all of us are very close to one way or another, either personally, through a family member, friends or someone we know.”

The Aloha Akua Charity Event will contribute 90 per cent of its proceeds to the foundation and 10 per cent to scholarships at Algonquin College.