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Successful OEF Fundraiser Tops Prior Years
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The Oakdale High School Jazz ensemble performed for the guests at the recent Oakdale Educational Foundations Music n Motion fundraiser. - photo by PHOTO BY NANCY KERN

Individuals and businesses stepped in and stepped up their giving this year to support the Oakdale Educational Foundation’s fundraising event Music ‘n’ Motion on Saturday, Sept. 29 at the Oakdale Golf and Country Club (OGCC).

The event is designed to benefit the students of the Oakdale Joint Unified School District and has been especially important in this time of continuing cuts to school budgets. OEF provides funding in the form of grants awarded to OJUSD teachers that go directly to enhancing the students’ educations. Microscopes, SmartBoards, projectors, reading programs, field trips to the Gallo Center of the Performing Arts, books, and software are just a few of the examples of equipment, technology, and special activities brought to OJUSD classrooms paid for by OEF grants.

Event co-chair Mitch Gagos said that the final numbers aren’t yet in, but reported they raised more than $85,000 from this event and expect to be able to fund around $91,000 worth of approved grant requests.

“This 2012 event achieved OEF’s largest total in sponsorships at $47,500,” he said. “The OEF board of directors is so very grateful to the sponsors for their support and, in the case of so many sponsors, their continued support. As well, the board of directors feels so blessed by the support of the many in our community and beyond for their generous contributions.”

Ticket sales were good with approximately 267 seats reserved for the event, Gagos said. Further, this year resulted in not only generating the most money through sponsorships compared to past OEF fundraisers, but also the most sponsors, more silent auction items, and more money netted than in any past year. He stated that costs to put on the event were significantly reduced from past years because of many in-kind donations.

For example, Don Knickerbocker and his staff of four set up and adjusted the stage lighting.

“(They) donated their time and materials for this event; forfeiting paying jobs, by spending much of Friday setting up electrical wiring and lights for the Saturday night Music ‘n’ Motion,” Gagos said. “OEF’s board of directors hugely appreciates the contribution and sacrifices made by Mr. Knickerbocker and his staff.”

Gagos added that contractor Ron Holcombe and his staff also helped with set designs and set up and further noted that the OGCC management and staff is very supportive and show a “great deal of benevolence” to the OEF cause.

“People were very generous within their means,” Gagos said, noting that as some sponsors weren’t able to do as much as in the past, others came on board to help.

He added that it was gratifying to see all those who stepped up to support the cause. He said that there were also a number of individuals and businesses from out of town that made donations.

The event started off with supporters entering the venue to the music of the Oakdale Junior High School Steelband, led and accompanied by OHS Music Director Ross McGinnis. Once inside, a black and purple retro theme dominated the décor. Attendees were also able to get a good idea of their financial contributions at work – enlarged black and white mounted photos of OJUSD students involved in learning activities associated with equipment and technology funded through OEF grants were on display.

“It was a tangible example of where all this money is going,” Gagos said of the photos.

Student and professional musicians provided entertainment for the guests all evening. The Oakdale High School Jazz Ensemble performed for guests early in the event, as well as two Oakdale elementary school students who performed songs from “The Sound of Music.” Headlining entertainment was provided by “Donnie and the Wayrads,” with guitarist Darin Morris also soloing earlier in the evening for guests as well.

OHS teacher and “voice of the Mustangs” Pete Simoncini emceed the event, and OEF President Diana Paboojian provided the welcoming remarks.

Gagos noted that his wife and fellow event co-chair Leesa Gagos put in a “tremendous amount of energy” and many hours every week, going above and beyond to pull everything together for the event. He added that Paboojian and event creative designer Monica Perrone were also instrumental in making it elegant, fun, and run smoothly.

“Those three ladies made a great team. All of our directors, of course, are very involved…very hands-on,” he said. “…It ended up being a great deal of fun.”

Gagos also reported that this is the ninth year of fundraisers and the OEF, including this year, has funded a total of approximately $690,000 in grant requests.

He noted that about $150,000 in grant applications have been received by the OEF this year and are still being reviewed by the committee. The grant requests must meet certain criteria for approval.

“We are hopeful that people will continue to make donations to OEF, enabling a greater portion of the total approved grants to be funded,” he added.

Grants will be awarded to teachers at a special ceremony near the end of November or early December.

Gagos said that there are still opportunities to donate toward this year’s grant awards. More information can be viewed at Checks may be made payable and sent to: Oakdale Educational Foundation, 1570 East F Street, L-132, Oakdale, CA 95361. The OEF’s Federal Tax I.D. # 47-092651.