By Maddy Vitale
From knitting needles to iPads to even a school trip, the Ocean City Education Foundation, an independent group of residents, educators, business owners and parents, just wants to give the school district resources that students and teachers need and want but might not be in the district’s budget.
The mission of the 25-plus member community service organization, headed by Tricia Ciliberto, is to provide financial support and other resources to supplement district-wide programs and activities.
For 11 years, the organization has been successfully doing its part to better the education experience. Last year, the group raised $12,000 to disperse to teachers in “mini-grants.” Fundraisers, the members say, are key to their success in being able to fill that gap.
For the first time, the OCEF will be hosting a Red & White Social coinciding with the school district’s spirit week and homecoming.
“Usually our events are in the spring,” said Heather James, a longtime OCEF member and co-chair of the fundraiser. “It makes sense to have this during spirit week and homecoming weekend and where it is centered around school. We are hoping it will grow from here and gather more support and education on what we do.”
The festivities will be held at Sketties, 301 Roosevelt Boulevard in Marmora on Saturday, Oct. 20, from 6-9 p.m. The goal, James said, is to not only raise funds but also to bring past and present Ocean City School District friends and families together.
In addition to food and drinks, there will be games for families. One game will allow kids to guess how much candy is in a container. The winner gets to take home all of the candy. Other games and an interactive DJ will add to the entertainment.
Among the variety of entertainment will be a raffle, where the winner brings home $1,000.
James said the raffle is what really kick-started the fall fundraiser.
“We went to the Sea Isle Fall Festival and had a table. Then we went to Ocean City Back to School Nights and the Ocean City Block Party,” James said, adding that they will also do a spring fundraiser. “It gave us a great opportunity to tell the community what we are all about.”
Like James, Jennifer Shirk is a longtime OCEF member. She is also the president of the Ocean City Free Public Library Board of Trustees.
Shirk said they are excited about the fundraiser Saturday.
“Our whole thing changing up our fundraiser was to reach out to the crowd,” she said. “We tied it into homecoming to draw parents and kids who are currently going to school. This really is a family event. We really think we have a nice mix of past and present students.”
Shirk noted that it will be wonderful to see alumni come back.
“They will be able to see changes in the district and it is fantastic if they want to support us,” she said. “They are a great testimony for what a great school district we have.”
Aimee Schultz, of JASM Consulting, is one of the sponsors of the fundraiser. Her children also graduated from Ocean City schools.
“The event is going to be great – bringing many Red Raider families together both past and present,” Schultz said.
Each year the OCEF hosts two fundraisers and accepts donations from the community in order to gather funds to award to the teachers the mini-grants.
This last year, the foundation purchased desk cycles for a teacher in the Ocean City Primary School.
“We had a teacher come to us last year who has special needs children in the class,” James explained. “The teacher asked for desks with pedals. I think we were able to buy four.”
In addition to supplying items for the classroom, the OCEF also helps support programs on drug and alcohol awareness and the After Prom.
James and Shirk emphasized that the foundation members could not do as much as they have for the schools without the help of the community.
They also hope that Saturday’s fundraiser will not only raise money to help them provide resources for the district, but also to create memories.
“It is something that we hope becomes a tradition for current and past families, where they know they can meet up every year at our event.”
For more information on the event or to find out more about the foundation visit: www.ocnjef.com.
Affanato Marut LLC
First Bank of Sea Isle
BRONZE level sponsor:
- Dr. Martin Carey DPM, PC
- Skip Holtzapfel Builders, inc
- MSI – Metal Structures Inc.
- Fortress Financial
- Dr. Eric Dunn Shore Optical
- The Shirt Shack
- Atlantic Coast Dentistry for Children
- The Ocean City Free Public Library
- North End Dental
- Ocean Treasures
- Johnson’s Popcorn
- Sturdy Savings Bank
- Dr. Kathleen Taylor
- The Shirk Family
- The James Family
- Christi Insurance
- Bocca Coal Fired Bistro
- Fox Real Estate
- OC Firefighters Association
SILVER level sponsor:
Thomas H. Heist Insurance Agency
Scarborough Marine Group
Clayton’s Marmora Mini Storage