Parent-led organizations are raising thousands of dollars in additional funding for local schools, and residents have many opportunities ahead to support this mission.
The Villages Charter School’s parent support organization Buffalo PRIDE (Partners Responsible for Educational Development) will host the 19th Annual Founders Day BBQ and Festival on the same day this year, April 9th.
“These are two great fundraisers,” said Erin Natalino, president of Buffalo PRIDE. “The BBQ Bash tends to provide a crowd of business partners and residents. Founders Day is more geared towards families and young children.”
Buffalo PRIDE also hosts events such as the Closet Clutter Garage Sale and the Running With The Herd 5K event. The 22nd Annual Villages Charter School Golf Tournament will be held on April 23 this year at the Palmer Legends Country Club. Tee times begin at 7:22 a.m. and people can register to play or sponsor at tvcs.org/golf.
The money the events raise goes directly to supporting the school, said Randy McDaniel, director of education at The Villages Charter School.
“That goes for things like buying laptops, funding field trips and articles at press centers,” McDaniel said.
The Parent-Teacher Organizations at Wildwood Elementary School and Webster Elementary School also host fun money-raising events.
Wildwood Elementary School will hold its annual Chili Bingo fundraiser at 5 p.m. March 25 at the Wildwood Community Center, and Webster Elementary School will hold its own Chili Bingo fundraiser at 6 p.m. ‘school.
“Chili Bingo is our most profitable event, and the money raised goes toward next year’s field trips,” said Amanda Hahn, PTO president at Wildwood Elementary School. “It is through the support of businesses and various groups in our community that we are able to receive incredible prizes through donations.”
The Buffalo PRIDE BBQ Bash will take place from noon to 3 p.m. on April 9 at Spanish Springs Town Square, and Founders Day will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 9 at the Villages Polo Club. The event celebrates the 22nd anniversary of the founding of the Villages Charter School.
This year’s Founders’ Day will be similar to last year’s, said Courtney Gage, Vice President of PRIDE. It will include hundreds of games and activities for children.
“Founders Day is a way to show our kids a great day of fun spending time with their friends’ families and teachers in a carnival-like atmosphere,” Gage said. “It promotes conviviality, friendship and above all pleasure.”
Gage is thrilled that BBQ Bash is finally returning after being suspended during the pandemic.
“BBQ Bash feels new because we haven’t been able to hold it for the past two years,” Gage said. “How exciting that we can bring him back this year.”
More than 30 crews from local businesses and sheriff’s offices will manufacture a minimum of 150 pounds each of pork, chicken and beef.
McDaniel said the teams worked hard for the event.
“We really appreciate all of our businesses coming out to support us,” McDaniel said. “With BBQ Bash, some of them cook all night for it.”
Anyone can purchase a $5 wristband at the event to sample all the meat, and teams will compete for multiple prizes.
Those who attend the Wildwood Elementary School fundraiser can win prizes such as a television, $400 in gift cards and more.
“The ticket sales and the chili sales on the day of the event are pretty much entirely lucrative and come right back to school,” Hahn said. “For $20 you get 19 game sheets.
The school’s PTO raised over $3,000 this year, which helped pay for student events and school equipment.
Hahn, like many, feels it is his duty to volunteer for the school.
“As a parent, I feel it’s my responsibility to be a part of my children’s lives and to support their school in any way I can,” she said. “I may not be able to be a classroom teacher, and God bless those who are, but I can offer my time, energy and talents to help their school be the best experience for children, teachers and staff. Wildwood Elementary is an amazing school and deserves the best. I am here to serve.
Webster Elementary School’s Chili Bingo fundraiser is $10 per game and participants have a chance to win prizes. The money raised helps many areas of the school.
“Webster’s Chili Bingo is the highest-grossing event and usually pays around $4,000,” said Michele Crawford, Webster’s PTO member and event organizer. “In years past, it has been used for computer software licenses, trophies and awards at fifth-year promotion ceremonies. Events like these provide funds for student incentives, educational materials and training that may not be included in the annual district budget.”
Managing Editor Garrett Shiflet can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5367, or [email protected]