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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 1 year ago

Audubon Park Elementary PTA gears up for Shindig goes POP

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The Audubon Park Elementary PTA is gearing up for their biggest fundraiser of the year.
by: Tim Freed Associate Editor

A new school year is underway at Audubon Park Elementary School — and with that comes a new opportunity for the PTA to help support its school.

The Audubon Park Elementary School PTA will raise money for new projects for the school at its Shindig Goes POP event Friday, Oct. 6, at the Orlando Museum of Art.

It’s the PTA’s main fundraiser, and the money will fund various improvements. Participating parents, teachers and neighbors can expect a fun event with food, a DJ and a cash bar. The night also will feature a large silent auction, with at least 200 items ranging from fun perks for children at school, such as a voucher for ice cream with a teacher and being school principal for a day, all the way to tickets to Disney World and Orlando Magic games.

Last year, the event raised more than $59,000 through the auctions. The PTA used proceeds to purchase Sunshine State books for every class; stipends to pay teachers who run after-school clubs; teacher training; a concrete pad on the playground for kids to play four square; and an outdoor learning garden.

“It’s huge,” new PTA President Stephanie Harley says. “We only have two main fundraisers and this is the only one in the fall, and it basically funds everything we do for the year and hopefully then some.”

“We transitioned from lots of little tiny fundraisers like the wrapping paper and the cookies,” past-president Jessica Brown says. “Our parents have kept saying to us, ‘Please stop with all the fundraising. We do so much, and we’re constantly being asked.’ We took a step a few years ago and said, ‘OK, two big fundraisers and that’s it.’”

The shindigs have been a tremendous hit ever since. Previous years have raised money for a small café area in the lobby where parents can eat lunch with their children, as well as an entire Dr. Seuss-themed redecoration of the library that included excerpts from the stories painted on the walls, new furniture and a large wooden tree centerpiece.

The event has evolved over time. Two years ago, the event converted to electronic bidding through an online app, which allows parents to contribute to the silent auctions even if they aren’t present at the shindig.

Organizers hope to make this year’s shindig the biggest one yet, says Harley, who has a first-grader at Audubon Park.

“Next year, our school will be smaller, because of the new K-8 opening, which is taking a hunk of students over,” she says. “We’re thinking this is going to be a big blowout, because it will be our last shindig as Audubon Park as we know it.”

Harley says the PTA hopes to welcome at least 200 attendees to this year’s event.

Brown says the parents are incredibly passionate about supporting the school — mostly because the school does so much to help them already, she says.

“It’s a two-way street,” says Brown, who has a first- and fifth-grader at the school. “The parents are so incredibly supportive, and then you turn around and look at the staff and the teachers and the administration — they are so giving. They are so helpful to us, letting us know what they need and how we can help. It’s really a team effort.”

Tim Freed is an Associate Editor with the Winter Park/Maitland Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

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