Despite a rocky and unsure start, Community High School has once again wowed at the annual Food Gatherers fundraiser. Due to an early snow day, the kick-off was canceled and the start of the drive was slower than usual, but students worked hard to maintain Community’s history of support.
The ceremony to celebrate the fundraiser was held the day before Thanksgiving break, along with Multi Culti. Students packed into the pews of St. Andrews Church, as a few members from each forum lined up along the side of the church. After a few words from teachers and students, forums took turns coming up to the podium and held up signs to announce their total. The signs had glitter, stickers and colorful drawings. Some of the most creative were the Mankad Forum’s Pancake Meter sign (in correspondence with their Shrove Tuesday Multi Culti) and the Brent forum’s holiday candy striped one. The Stapleton forum announced their total, $6,508, midway through the procession and remained unbeaten by any other forum.
CHS Dean Marci Tuzinsky then took the stage to speak. She congratulated everyone who participated, as well as the school as a whole. “The excitement we feel here about Community High School is unique,” Tuzinsky said. She reminisced back to 2009, when Community’s to raise $3,000. Now, Community has raised over 20 times that amount. “You guys [students] have done an amazing job of making what we are doing meaningful and important, and you have never lost sight of taking back and giving back to our community, which is what we’re about.”
Behind the Dean, Food Gatherers volunteers were busy making the last calculations. They quickly added up all the totals from each forum, and passed the calculator over to CHS student Logan Edgar. Edgar got up onto the stage and announced the total, over $63,000, to the thunderous cheers from the audience. The news was made sweeter by the fact that Community’s $50,000 matching grant from The Harold and Kay Peplau Fund brought the grand total up to $113,000. This is the 3rd year in a row Community has exceeded the $50,000 match. “That amount of money is unprecedented for a high school,” Tuzinsky said.
After the grand total was announced, Dean Tuzinsky awarded the Stapleton forum the title of highest earning forum. Next came prizes for students who raised the most, had the most individual donations and had the most creative method of raising money. Students who believed they had a creative way of raising donations came up to the microphone to announce their methods. West forum member Louis Benard collected cans and bottles to return, Morgan forum member Rita Ionides held a party with her family for donations, Dudley forum member Leda Santic held a bake sale at the Neutral Zone Poetry slam and student Brooke Rafko sold turkey grams. After hearing each student, Food Gatherers volunteers debated on the winner. While the judges decided, Marci announced the student winners in the two other categories. Avani Hoeffner-Shah raised the most money, while Stern forum Senior Sophia Scarnecchia had most individual donations. Rafko won the award for most creative for her idea of making turkey grams, small, turkey shaped cutout students could pay to give to friends and teachers to show their appreciation. The ceremony then concluded, and students streamed off to their forums to celebrate Multi Culti.
Forum leader, and this year’s winner, Robbie Stapleton says that she does not push the fundraising too much.
“We raise a lot of money but we do it low-key because it is hard when you have kids who are not able to donate,” Stapleton said. “I don’t want to make them feel bad so we keep it on the down-low.”
Stapleton said that she has students who benefit from Food Gatherers and it is difficult to ask students who may not be as easily able to give for money.
Another high earning team this year was the Morgan forum, whose end total was $5,107 at the time of the assembly. Teacher and forum leader Robert Morgan, like many other forum leaders, set goals and rewards for the forum.
“This year we set some exciting goals of things that I would do if we raised a certain amount of money,” Morgan said. “The big one being if they raised 5,000 I would tell them the location of my wedding. I am prepared to tell them that, they earned it. Our last year’s record was $3,000, so they did a great job.”
Morgan’s forum has been improving every year, they have jumped from $1,000 to $3,000 to now over $5,000 in three years. The forum achieves these high numbers by reaching out and spreading the fundraiser.
“A lot of it was extended social media posting”, Morgan said. “One of our students has Russian heritage so they posted to Russian groups on Facebook. We have a lot of donations from people with very Russian last names. Other people went door to door in their neighborhoods.”
Brent - $820
Kilgore - $867
J. Johnson - $1,002.71
Haidu-Banks - $1,061
Coron - $1,500
Silvester - $1,519
McGraw - $2,020
Kiley - $2,023
Mosher - $2,086
M Johnson - $3,075
West - $3,113.14
Mankad - $3,247.05
Root - $3,388.03
Kuka - $3,516.34
Stern - $4,630.71
Anderson - $4,828
Morgan - $5,107
Thomas - $5,502.1
DWow - $6,124.08
Stapleton - $6,508
The school as a whole has raised a total of $68,468. This equals to about 189,882 meals.
There was also a generous pledge made by the Harold and Kay Peplau Fund to match up to $50,000, bringing the total to over $113,000!
The top earning forum this year was the Stapleton forum. The Stapleton forum also had 100% participation, a feat that teacher Tracy Anderson views as extraordinary.
“I think that 100 percent participation is the most important getting the top amount,” Anderson said. “So, remember that for next year.”
The most creative forum was the Root forum which sold “turkey grams”. The turkey grams idea was conceived by student Brooke Rafko.
The student who raised the most individually was Avani Hoeffner-Shah
The student with the most individual donations was Sophia Scarnecchia.