As in-person gatherings shut down a year ago in an effort to slow the pandemic’s spread, the organizers of many a school auction and gala scrambled to move the spring events online. The in-person festivities remain on hold this year. Murch Elementary and Deal Middle Schools are holding virtual auctions. And the PTA at Hearst Elementary is opting for smaller fundraisers.
“[R]ight now we are doing a Read-A-Thon, which gets the kids involved, to raise money specifically for families in the Hearst community experiencing financial hardship,” Hearst PTA co-president Kerry Schwed told us in an email.
“We really love that the kids are the power behind this – for my son, once the donations started rolling in, it made him extra energized to put in the reading minutes and make people feel he was doing his part,” Schwed said.
Many aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends are cheering the kids on. So far, the Hearst Read-A-Thon has raised more than $7,000. The Read-A-Thon is also welcoming donations from the community until the event ends in mid-March.
The Murch auction last year – after the mad dash to move the event online – raised $85,000 for the Home and School Association, which has spent the money on supporting online teaching and learning, and gift cards for families in need. The HSA is holding another virtual auction on March 20th with the theme “Chasing Our Rainbow.”
“Rainbows are a symbol of hope, thanks and solidarity. We have weathered this COVID storm together and we are so close to our rainbow!” write the organizers on the auction website. The Murch HSA welcomes donated auction items from the community. It suggests, for example, that donors also support local businesses by buying gift cards and donating them to the auction.
The Alice Deal Community Association is celebrating of the school’s 90th anniversary at a February 27th virtual auction and trivia night. The ADCA is also collecting donated items for the auction, and Deal students, alumni and other friends of the school are invited to participate in the night’s events as well. The fundraising goal: $50,000.
Another fundraising tradition that has persisted with a few pandemic-era tweaks: “dining out nights” at local restaurants. That used to mean being encouraged to dine out on a typically slow night for a participating restaurant. Now it means ordering in. In both cases, you generally mention while ordering that you are supporting a particular school, and the restaurant will donate a percentage of your check.
“We’ve… been doing dining nights each month, as an effort to raise money, support our neighborhood restaurants, and frankly, give everyone one blessed night off from meal planning!” said Hearst PTA’s Schwed. Upcoming Hearst dining nights include Medium Rare on March 11th, Nando’s on the April 8th and Potomac Pizza on May 10th. Murch’s Potomac Pizza night is February 17th, and there’s another Murch dining night at Guapo’s on the 25th.