By MADDY VITALE
The Ocean City Education Foundation is hosting its third annual Red & White Night Social to help support mental health programs, scholarships, and items teachers may need.
Each year the foundation hosts two fundraisers to benefit the district schools, one in the fall and the other in the spring.
But with the COVID-19 pandemic many people are choosing to stay home. The foundation members decided to offer a way for families and business owners to still have a good time and support the district, but without leaving their homes.
The first-ever virtual Red & White Night Social will be held at 6 p.m. on Saturday Oct. 24. Prize packages will be virtually raffled off and there will be a grand prize of $2,000. In addition, all virtual attendees will receive complimentary raffle and basket tickets.
Tickets are $35 for one or $60 for two.
O.C. Education Foundation Board President Jennifer Shirk said of the virtual event, “Obviously, we would prefer an in-person event, but we’re not allowing this virus to get the best of us. Going virtual is still a wonderful way to promote our mission and seems only natural in this digital age.”
The thought of canceling the social was not even a consideration, Shirk noted.
“This is our third year hosting a Red & White Night Social for the school district, so we hated the idea of canceling it — or worse, saying it’s on only to have mandates change and then have to cancel anyway,” she said.
Shirk explained that the foundation members came up with a way to host the event and have some fun with it by promoting it as “The Most School Spirited Event You’ve Ever Gone To Without Going To,” and also make it worthwhile for people buying the raffle ticket.
This year, amid the pandemic, nonprofit organizations have seen challenges in raising funds. The O.C. Education Foundation is committed to supporting the students and teachers of the district, Shirk said.
“We are extremely thankful to so many of our local businesses who have already sent in sponsorship money for this event,” she said.
This year has resulted in challenges for parents, caregivers and students as they begin the journey of hybrid or virtual learning and adhere to the many rules to stay safe and healthy.
“I hope parents, caregivers, and others in the community consider buying a ticket or making a donation today, as all money raised will go toward supporting mental health programs for OCSD students affected by COVID-19, our community scholarships, and also supplementing any budget cuts that have occurred during the pandemic,” Shirk said. “We hope to create a better future for our students during this unprecedented time and would love to see more people join us in that commitment.”
While the foundation is sensitive to the fact that businesses and families have been financially impacted by the pandemic, any amount of a donation is appreciated, and it goes toward helping the teachers and students in the Ocean City school district, according to the foundation’s website ocnjef.com.
The website says, “We are sensitive to the fact that many of our local businesses have faced financial hardship these past few months. We genuinely appreciate and will not forget the support you have given us in the past! If your budget allows this year, we hope you can continue to partner with us.”
Foundation board member Heather James said the community has already joined together to offer support.
“We already feel a lot of support from our community. The sponsors have been very generous, and we love seeing new businesses get involved,” James said. “We appreciate continued support from many local businesses, even those affected by the pandemic. The spirit of our community is alive and well and it really shows.”
For more information, visit the Ocean City Education Foundation on Facebook.
Tickets may be purchased at https://ocnjef.com