Dinner party, auction to raise funds for Cape public school foundation

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cardinals tickets, Lipodissolve, jewelry and furniture will be auctioned

Last year, Cape Girardeau teachers applied for more than $60,000 in grants. The Cape Girardeau Public School Foundation could only award $15,000 of it.

"There are teachers who want to improve the school, the students. They want to be able to make a difference ... or do more than what the budget covers," said Tammy Samuel, executive director of the foundation.

Samuel hopes a "Penguin Party" fundraiser Saturday will help. About $18,000 was raised in the event's inaugural year last February, but Samuel wants to be able to award $25,000 in grants this year. She also wants to add to an endowment started last year for college scholarships.

The gala, to be held at the Drury Lodge ballroom, will feature drinks, hors d'oeuvres and a performance by the Central Jazz Band. The social hour will be followed by dinner, an auction and dancing to the band Mudpuppy. A gown or tuxedo is not required, but guests are encouraged to dress in black or white.

Weeklong home stays, a river boat excursion, LASIK surgery, jewelry, Cardinals tickets, furniture and Lipodissolve will be auctioned.

Although the foundation has been around for more than a decade, members have spent the last year working to publicize its existence and are starting to see results, Samuel said.

There are already 250 committed to attending the fundraiser, 50 more people than last year, and the foundation has $30,000 more this month than it did at the same time last year. Tickets to the Penguin Party cost $50, or $350 for a table of eight.

A golf tournament and Tiger Tailgate, when Central High School plays Jackson, are the other two main fundraisers for the not-for-profit organization. Last year the golf tournament netted $15,000 and the tailgate $1,800. Private and business donors make up the rest of the organization's funds.

Samuel, who works part time, is the only paid employee, as the foundation's executive director. Other operations are run by volunteers on a 13-member board, which meets monthly in the district's administrative offices.

"When teachers know the community is supporting them and know there are funds available through the grants, it just creates potential and a positive environment," said Wendi Orenstein, a member of the foundation board.

Last year, nine teachers were awarded grants, including Ben Belanger, for purchasing guitars for his music appreciation class at the junior high, and Linda Robert, for establishing a book club at Franklin Elementary.

Grant applications for this year are due March 31, and the "prize patrol" will award the grants in late April. Call 651-0555 or e-mail director@capeschools.org to attend the Penguin Party.

lbavolek@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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