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A local restaurant showcased a tasty way to support U.S. troops Wednesday.

Cafe Rio on Festival Way in Waldorf held a benefit for national nonprofit Hope for the Warriors all day. Restaurant attendees were given free food and were encouraged to make a donation to the Salt Lake City-based group in lieu of paying for their meals.

Organization spokeswoman Laura Halligan said that all the Cafe Rio restaurants are partners with Hope for the Warriors but that the Waldorf store is the first in the area to hold a fundraiser of this sort.

“They’ve really come out in full force to support us,” Halligan said, adding that the restaurant also offers a discount for military members on Mondays, the proceeds of which go in part to Hope for the Warriors. “It’s been a huge blessing.”

Cafe Rio spokesman Troy Hoover said he considers it the least the restaurant can do to support a worthwhile group.

“The biggest thing is that [Hope for the Warriors] is a great organization,” Hoover said. “They do a great job caring for our military and for our families.”

The group focuses specifically on servicemen and -women who served post-9/11 and their families. Specifically, the group serves those dealing with the lasting physical and psychological effects of war.

Hoover said he expected to see anywhere from 500 to 600 people show up at the restaurant that day. Early in the day, when a reporter visited the restaurant, Hoover said many of the store’s patrons had been more than willing to donate to the group. On Thursday morning, Hoover said the restaurant had raised $2,956 in cash donations. He was unsure how much had been raised by credit card donations.

Waldorf resident Mike Foster said he saw the signs for the benefit along the road and was inspired to stop in to support a friend of his in the U.S. Marine Reserve.

“Our soldiers do what they can to support us, so I wanted to do what I can to support them, too,” Foster said. “I think that’s really important.”

Another event attendee, U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Delton McClary, said he was not aware of the benefit when he came in for lunch. Having just returned from a tour in Afghanistan, McClary said he is always pleased to see events like this.

“It’s awesome,” McClary said. “I know that they have the 25 percent off on Mondays ... and I’m very appreciative of [Cafe Rio]. It lets us know that people appreciate what we do. They always help us out.”

lrenner@somdnews.com