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Jones' benefit dinner proves popular; $6K raised
Dinner, dessert, entertainment, auctions; Friday Harbor high school students pulled out all the stops.
And islanders turned out in droves to help make Saturday’s fundraiser for middle school teacher Tina Jones a success.
“We weren’t sure with the weather how many people would show up,” said senior Rebecca Leff, president of the high school S-Club, which organized the benefit. “I’m just so incredibly pleased.”
Between all the spaghetti dinners, the donations, the live and silent auctions, and an after-dinner auction of mouth-watering desserts, the S-Club raised about $6,000 to assist Jones, a social studies instructor, in plugging the financial drain that’s followed in the wake of her battle against breast cancer.
San Juan was locked in the grip of its first real ice and snow of the season less then 24 hours before the fundraiser was set to begin.
By Saturday afternoon, however, barely a trace could be found. The Mullis Senior Center, which hosted the event, was packed from wall to wall. No one seemed more touched by the outpouring of support than Jones herself.
“It’s overwhelming,” she said, surveying the crowd. “It has been since this whole thing started. All the calls, and neighbors coming over with dinner. Everyone has been so supportive. Darrin (Scheffer) just brought over some wood. It just never ends.”
Sponsored by the local chapter of Soroptimist International, the S-Club and its 20 or so members worked tirelessly in collecting items for auction, orchestrating a spaghetti dinner, recruiting supporters and publicizing the event. They got a big boost from local merchants, businesses and various individuals who contributed time, money and merchandise.
Soroptimist and S-Club advisor Debbie Staehlin said the amount of support “her kids” received helped to put muscle behind their momentum and spur them on.
“I’m just so proud of these kids,” Staehlin said. “And they got so much support from the community.”
Recruited as a summer school teacher by former middle school principal Court Bell, Jones worked as a substitute before she became a full-time middle school faculty member in 2006. Though Jones arrived on San Juan with teaching credentials in tow (she previously had taught a high school in Federal Way) she moved to Friday Harbor on somewhat of a lark.
“It was all on a whim,” she said. “I’m came here without a job and started in construction first.”
She became a mainstay of the middle school faculty over the course of her six-year tenure. And she’s remembered fondly by many former students.
“We saw someone in need and she’s an important member of this community,” said Leff, leader of the S-Club. “We wanted to do whatever we could to support her.”