Every March, Miller-Driscoll’s PTA has traditionally organized the Winter Carnival, a homespun carnival in the halls of the school, with activities and game booths manned by parents of each classroom. The day also featured a silent auction of donated goods and art projects made by each class that parents would bid on.
Now the PTA has decided to shift gears and split the one yearly event into two different ones–a real carnival that will be held on the school’s grounds on April 4, 5 and 6, and a Parents’ Night Out evening event and silent auction this Saturday, March 8 from 7 to 10 p.m, with the theme ‘Denim and Diamonds.’
“The carnival in the past was crazy, chaotic and parents didn’t get to focus on the silent auction because they had kids pulling them in 18 different directions. Plus, we wanted to do a different type of carnival because the number of volunteers required for just that one day was enormous. We had a very hard time staffing it last year,” explained Susan Price, one of the co-presidents of this year’s PTA.
Saturday’s Denim and Diamonds event will be held at WEPCO and will have light appetizers catered by Simply Delicious Catering, music by Terrapin and beer donated by Glenro Spirit Shoppe of Monroe, as well as other drinks and wine. “It should be very festive and fun,” Price said. The silent auction will now take center stage, with more than 200 items that have been donated, including jewelry, beauty items, things for kids, items for pets, sports items, entertainment and dining packages, health and fitness items. But what organizers hope will add to the experience is that the auction is already open for bidding online, and even people who don’t attend the event–or even who don’t have children who attend Miller-Driscoll–can put in bids.
“Anyone can participate,” Price said, adding that, “All the teachers donated things.”
Price is making the appeal for people to buy tickets to Saturday night’s event, hoping that they understand that fundraising for the PTA is crucial, knowing that money raised by the PTA supports programs that aren’t covered by the school budget or other funding sources, like the Wilton Education Foundation.
“All of the enrichment activities at the school is PTA-funded–Women in History Day, Fun Fitness nights, Pumpkin Carving, the visiting authors, science enrichment, the Outdoor Learning Center, the fine arts performances. And for all of the programs that we do, this is how we pay for them, including the printing of the PTA Handbook and things like staff hospitality events and the Second Grade Picnic. The extra stuff is not part of the schools’ budget. In the past the Winter Carnival has been the main fundraiser. We’re now just breaking the main fundraising into two parts.”
The PTA is also the main power behind the Teacher Gifts and Grants Program, including the giving tree and start up costs. “Every teacher gets money at the start of the year to buy things for their classroom. They certainly wouldn’t have that without this program.”
In the past the Winter Carnival and auction have brought in around $25,000, but organizers are hoping to exceed that with their new plan. “We wanted to find a way to bring in more money. There are so many more things we could be doing, but aren’t because we don’t have funding.”
Tickets for the “Denim and Diamond” event are $35 a person, and they are available online, here. They will also be sold at the door at the event, but organizers are hoping for RSVPs ahead of time to help with headcount. And one important thing to note: the ticket price only covers the event–the location, the food and drinks and the band. The real fundraising happens at the silent auction, so organizers are encouraging people to bid whether they are at the event or not.
As for the outdoor carnival in April, that will be a real carnival with rides, games and all the fun kids will love. “It should be a lot of fun. It will be on the south part of the Miller-Driscoll property. We have so much room and we’ll have a lot for everyone to do,” Price said.