Thursday, April 8, 2010

St. Mary's Tropical Nights Fundraiser

St. Mary's School launches 3rd annual "Tropical Nights" fundraising event
By Sheryl Popp
Sunday Post Features Writer
West Bend, WI

St. Mary's Tropical Nights-themed fundraiser incorporates cruising - so it's being launched - get it? Fundraising chairwoman, Dawn Marris, tells me the original committee based their money making idea on breaking the monotony of winter with a festive event that heralded spring, and made attendees think of warm weather. They even have leis for sale at the event!

I don't think I could find anyone who doesn't know that all schools need to raise funds, and that private and parochial schools are responsible for the vast majority of their operating budgets. In fact, that's why Dawn is doing what she's doing. St. Mary's had financial advisory committees and people in the past, but no real marketing committee until this last year. Last month, Dawn had two people join her committee, which is huge for her.

St. Mary's School, located in West Bend (Barton), opened their doors in 1850. They are the oldest, continually operating parochial school in the state, and third oldest in the country, which makes them an institution that area residents can be proud of. They are a K4-8th grade school, with multi-age classrooms. The K-4 program is offered at a cost lower than traditional daycare, and they also have before and after school care programs. Monies raised not only support the school's religious education program, but also fund building and grounds repairs and improvements to their historic building. Rather than several small fundraisers, it was decided to concentrate on one, larger event that could in turn, generate larger sums. (The past two events raised $60,000.) Again, there are numerous schools in the area hosting big fundraisers, but the organizers of Tropical Nights have truly worked to provide attendees with a lot of bang for their buck. Or their $35, which is the ticket price. Similar events often have a $50 cover fee. So, what do you get for that? Read on.

Tropical Nights will be held in the Parish Center on Saturday, April 24. Don't make any plans too early Sunday morning, as this party's lasting until midnight. Doors open at 5:30pm, and the first silent auction and raffle games begin right away. The dinner buffet, catered by Country Catering of Kewaskum, features many choices on their well-rounded menu, and desserts are coming from Sweet Creations in Slinger - yum. A cash bar will be open as well. Dinner begins at 6:00pm. During the course of the evening, there will be a total of three different silent auctions, and a number of different raffle games. Of special note are the Chinese raffle, which is similar to a Chinese gift exchange, and two treasure chest raffles. The treasures to be found in those chests are a ring and a necklace donated by Silver Spring Coin.

At 8:00pm, a live auction begins. How fun is it that a professional auctioneer will be conducting the auction? As of 4/15, over $18,000 worth of auction and raffle items had been donated to the school, so of course, Dawn and the entire school staff would like to toss out a giant thanks to not only the immediate community, but those organizations and groups from around the state that helped out. Examples of auction items are: Four regular season Packer tickets, Brewers, Bucks or Admirals tickets; theme park passes, a getaway weekend and other prizes. Examples of raffle items include themed baskets, gift certificates, decorative items from local stores and more. If you choose not to attend the benefit, you can still participate by buying tickets for the grand prize raffle. One need not be present to win, and those tickets are on sale now. They sell for only $2.00 each or six for $10.00. There are five grand prizes available. First prize is winner's choice of a 40" LCD TV, valued at $2,000, from Kettle Moraine Appliance or a travel voucher valued at $1,200 from Shooting Star Travels or $1,000 cash. For those in attendance, this drawing will be at 11:00pm. One very special auction item is the "Be principal for a day," prize. This is only open to parents with children enrolled at St. Mary's. Last year's fourth grade winner was thrilled with her experience and would gladly do it again.

St. Mary's School is located at 415 Roosevelt Dr. in West Bend. The school is accepting donations of cash or prizes through April 16. To donate, or if you have questions, please call 262-338-5602, the school office. To purchase event or raffle tickets, please call 262-338-5605. Event tickets must be purchased by April 15. Raffle tickets are also available after every weekend mass. To learn more about the event and to see some fun photos from last year's fling, go to (This event is adults only.)

Dawn brought in a recipe of her grandmother's, Betty Christensen, to share with readers.

Grandma's Date Bars
1/2 cup melted butter
2 beaten eggs
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup nuts, finely cut
1 cup sugar
3/4 cups flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup dates, finely cut
Confectioners Sugar
Mix together all ingredients except Confectioners sugar. Place into 9x9x3" greased pan. Bake in 350ยบ oven about 20 minutes. Cut into bars and sprinkle with Confectioners sugar while still warm.

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