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Education Fundraiser Nets Money For Schools
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Although the final accounting is not yet complete, the grant requests have been reviewed by the committee and the Oakdale Educational Foundation is going to fund as many teacher grants as they can.

That declaration was made by board member Denise Hitch following the OEF’s recent annual fundraising dinner at the Oakdale Golf and Country Club to benefit the Oakdale Joint Unified School District.

As chairperson for OEF’s event this year, she reported that sponsors played a major role in financial support, donating $43,500. She added that it’s the most in sponsorship money the OEF has ever received. Among them were Oakdale Rotary Club and Oakdale Irrigation District, that each donated $5,000. A.L. Gilbert Company, the Gagos Family, and Pacific Program Management each donated $3,000.

“I think that speaks to the fact that they know what’s going on in the schools and they’re willing to give…and dig a little deeper,” Hitch said.

She went on to say that the newly-added silent auction brought in $9,300. She noted that the merchants of Oakdale were exceptionally generous in providing items for the silent auction and that the school staff-sponsored baskets made it fun as the schools all got involved.

Hitch noted that the live auction dipped a little this year, because they didn’t sell as many items twice or three times. She added that they were able to make some of that up with the “Curtain Call.”

Curtain Call was a surprise that followed the auction when Oakdale’s Chloe Kerr, dressed in her role as Annie, talked a little about what theater has meant to her and then sang “Tomorrow.”

“She tugged the heart strings of the entire audience,” Hitch said, “and earned a standing ovation. She was absolutely precious.”

The bidding for Curtain Call brought in $7,300 in five minutes, Hitch said. She noted there was a proposed project with an anonymous donor and the Gallo Center For The Arts that would allow all third, seventh, and ninth graders in the district to attend a play at the center, but the OEF had to match it. The money raised from Curtain Call allowed the OEF to meet that goal of $3,600.

Hitch’s priority was to make sure the evening came together to have a night of fun and successful fundraising.

“Our theme, ‘Flashback,’ and having ‘The Cheeseballs’ (band) there gave a fresh look to events in Oakdale,” she said. “It was very retro, fun, upbeat. A very fun evening for everybody… The dance floor was packed all night until the brooms came out.”

She said the event was colorful, the décor was over the top, and that people had a great time. She added that though there was rain that night, they felt fortunate because it was like there was “an umbrella over the country club,” raining around them a few blocks away.

Some people arrived at the Flashback themed fundraiser in cocktail attire, while others came in costume. The winners of the costume contest were Oakdale’s Dave and Kathe Poteet, who Hitch said were unrecognizable when they arrived in full hippie regalia complete with tie-dyed T-shirts, sandals, long wigs, and round, rose-colored glasses.

Hitch said that fellow OEF board member Mitch Gagos told her that the people at his table that night were, at best, only vaguely familiar with OEF but they left as OEF supporters.

“I think what we’re famous for is fundraising and friend-raising,” Hitch said. “…People had fun but they did something really great for the schools and our supporters come back year after year.”

The OEF received grant requests from OJUSD teachers totaling $200,000 this year. Like last year, the Oakdale Joint Unified School District will not be able to match funds with grant money, as it was able in previous years due to changes in the state’s economy. However, the OEF still provides significant funding toward student enrichment and the grants will be awarded to OJUSD teachers at a reception prior to the end of this year.

“The OEF board has kept very strictly to their mission statement,” Hitch said. “We are fundraising to enhance the educational experience of our students. We are fundraisers and we take it very seriously.”