OEF event chairperson Denise Hitch said the OEF hopes to have at least 300 guests at the event and it is trying to fund approximately $200,000 in teacher grant requests this year.
“Our goal is to fund as many of those grant requests as possible,” Hitch said.
OEF President Connie Friel added that this year, like last year, the school district is unable to match funds donated by OEF. However, she said, even in this down economy sponsors have been generous and this year they have been more generous than ever before.
“We were blown away last year. We made more money than we ever have,” Friel noted.
“People understand that schools need money,” Hitch added.
The event will be from 5 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, Oct. 2 at Oakdale Golf and Country Club. Each event ticket includes two drink tickets, hors d’oeuvres, gourmet dinner, choice of desserts, and entertainment. Tickets are $125 per person and are available at the OJUSD office, located at the corner of South Third Avenue and G Street.
Friel said that people can come with their friends, as each table sits eight people, or they can come as individuals or couples.
The sole purpose of the OEF is to provide enrichment of education for students in the Oakdale Joint Unified School District. That enrichment is achieved by funding grant requests submitted by teachers with donations from businesses and individuals. The money raised goes directly to Oakdale classrooms and programs.
With each request, the OEF prioritizes those that will have the most impact on the largest number of students. Past grants have included funding for new technological equipment for classrooms, books and other literacy materials, science and math equipment, academic competitive team support, character education, music and art programs, to name a few.
This year, the foundation has added giving each school site the opportunity to identify a project for a grant that site officials believe affects the most students. Then, the OEF will match money raised by each site’s parent teacher organizations up to $5,000. A couple of those projects include updates to Magnolia Elementary School’s auditorium, which also serves to benefit the community, and stage risers for performances at Cloverland Elementary School. Friel said that’s money that doesn’t have to come out of school funds.
This year’s headliner entertainment for the fundraiser is Bay Area band “The Cheeseballs,” which plays numerous corporate events, including for Fortune 500 companies, as well as weddings and nightclubs around the U.S. Members of the seven-person band have also performed with a number of renown musicians.
“We wanted something that was totally interactive with everyone,” Friel said.
The Cheeseballs play ‘70s disco, ‘80s pop, hip-hop, rock, and current hits. The band has its own light and sound engineer and makes costume changes, too.
“Their goal is that no one is ever left sitting in their seats,” Friel said.
Hitch added that the band is highly sought after in the Bay Area and the OEF feels fortunate to have them. Since the theme for the event is Flashback, attendees can wear cocktail attire or even their grooviest era dance outfit — meaning costumes — if they choose, Friel said.
Prior to the headline act, local area four-piece Jazz group “The Jazzonis” will be playing during dinner.
Hitch recounted that in past years, the foundation has held celebrity waiter dinners, concerts with Italian tenor Pasquale Esposito, and also a music and dancing event with jazz musician Slim Man.
“We’ve always tried to keep it fresh,” she said.
“Guests want to feel very special and like they’ve experienced something unique, and it’s been a special evening for them,” Friel added. “We have a great deal of confidence within our organization that everybody’s going to love this year more than ever.”
In keeping with those thoughts, there are a couple of new additions this year: a cigar and port bar and also a full silent auction. Hitch said that there are about 30 offerings in the silent auction, including some very unique items put together by the staffs of each of school site that will have a lot of community appeal. There will also be a wine opportunity drawing for 25 bottles of premium fine wines, and plenty of excitement with the popular live auction.
Some of the live auction offerings include Dinner on the Dam; weekends in Pebble Beach and Sea Ranch houses with views; one-week accommodations for four anywhere in the world; a winter wonderland weekend in South Lake Tahoe with a sleigh ride, snow activities, a private wine cellar tasting and hors d’oeuvres; a wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres for 50 with a limo ride for 18; and more.
To date, the OEF has raised over $400,000 since it started in 2003. Its first event netted $44,000, Hitch said, and now they net over $100,000. Hitch said that she is contacted by people all over the U.S. seeking information about how to organize a successful educational foundation. She said that Oakdale is a very supportive and generous community and that helps a lot. Last year, the OEF was recognized by the California Teachers Association with the Gold Award for outstanding support of public schools.