Danville Express

Column - September 7, 2007

Diablo Views: How suite it is

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Any Giants fans out there? You might want to spend $10 on a ticket for a drawing to see the Giants play the San Diego Padres the evening of Sept. 26 - in the comfort of your own luxury box. The lucky ticket holder will win the use of the entire box suite. Of course it comes with premium parking.

It's a kick-off-the-school-year fundraiser at Greenbrook Elementary. Parent Debbie Bliss received the loan of the box to benefit the school from her friends Fran and Bobby Lent, who live on the Peninsula. Then another parent stepped up with four club level tickets and suite passes so the box now can accommodate 16. The luxury box is two doors down from Willie Mays' suite. What fun!

"We had to do it while school was ramping up," said Debbie. "We're always looking for ways to raise money."

She explained to me that Greenbrook's fundraising arm is the Eagle Fund, which is affiliated with the San Ramon Valley Education Foundation. The Eagle Fund pays for vocal music, computer science, art and many of the salaries of teacher's aides. It also supplements the librarian's salary, and gives teachers expense accounts for extra supplies. Then there's the Parent Teacher Association.

"The PTA focuses on services and special events that benefit the welfare of the children," said president Mary Lindner. "Our rule is to have three events that are not fundraisers - ice cream socials, movie nights and bingo nights."

Proceeds from the Giants luxury box drawing will be used to help build a new Eagles' Nest at the school, a garden spot with tables and benches for small gatherings or for parents to wait for their children. The courtyard design will have engraved bricks - another chance for fundraising! A brick can be purchased to donate in anyone's honor, starting at $75, to be laid in the school's Walk of Fame.

The key to schools' fundraising these days seems to be "think big." Notice that Greenbrook's dinner auction has been upgraded to black tie, with the sparkling name this year of "Diamonds are Forever," which also gives the event the James Bond cachet.

"Success breeds success," said Dick Vojvoda, head of the Eagle Fund.

It will be held Feb. 1 at the new Patrick David Event Center, which is opening in San Ramon on Old Crow Canyon Road. The auction provides 37 percent of the budgeted income for the Eagle Fund, Vojvoda said.

His oldest child is now in high school but he recalled when his family began at Greenbrook with kindergarten, the auction netted $10,000. Last year it earned $70,000 and it averaged $80,000 over the previous three years. And that's been without diamonds. Parent Scott Jordan is in charge of this year's event and Vojvoda said his team is already hard at work. I'm sure if you own anything worth auctioning off, they have contacted you or will soon. And Vojvoda said other schools in the district raise even more.

Fundraising has sure come a long way since I was co-chair of the PTA committee at Alamo Elementary School. Two of our biggest money raisers were selling sweats and a jog-athon. (Those red sweats were sure cute; wish I still had mine.) We started off the school year by asking families to make a donation for each child of $10 right off the bat. This was a fairly new concept and it took a lot of nerve to do it at the beginning.

This year when parents registered their children at Greenbrook, they were asked to donate $175 per child for the Greenbrook Academic Program, or GAP.

"Fundraising is clearly more sophisticated, targeting the demographics," Debbie told me. "The organization is structured like a corporation and has people with experience from corporations."

The winning tickets for the luxury box to see the Giants-Padres game will be drawn by Principal Tom Ladouceur at the school's Flag Salute in front of the school before classes begin Sept. 19. Tickets must be purchased by Sept. 14, either at the school office or by calling Debbie Bliss at 837-3187. Even if you're not a Giants fan, it sounds like a ball.

-Dolores Fox Ciardelli can be e-mailed at editor@DanvilleWeekly.com.


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