Schools Foundation raises $60,000 in cash, pledges, in 5th annual Phon-A-Thon

The phones are manned by a team of volunteers at the 5th annual public schools foundation Phone-A-Thon Monday at Friday Harbor High School.  - Jane Fox
The phones are manned by a team of volunteers at the 5th annual public schools foundation Phone-A-Thon Monday at Friday Harbor High School.
— image credit: Jane Fox

By Jane K. Fox

At 5 p.m. on Monday, the library at Friday Harbor High School was buzzing with noise. But this was no rabble of rule breakers, this was the 5th annual San Juan Public Schools Foundation Phon-A-Thon.

Overseen by both the outgoing president, Paul LeBaron, and incoming president, Lisa Anderson, this three-hour fundraising stint was powered by two shifts of 26 volunteers.

"We have parents, teachers, kids and those who have no connection to the schools," Anderson said, describing the people who gave up their evening to help. "The schools are important to the community, not just parents."

Anderson was speaking at 7:40 p.m., at which time the figures where looking good. Foundation board member Andy Hills calculated they had, at that moment, raised $30,795 in actual dollars, and another $15,785 in pledges, to be fulfilled later.

This total of $46,540 was getting close to the "challenge gift" offered by Kings Market. Kings made this offer in an effort to partially restore programs cut due to the $1 million reduction in the school district's budget for the 2009-10 school year.

Whatever the foundation raises, Kings would match it up to $50,000. This was why the atmosphere was so charged in the last 20 minutes of fund raising. Would they meet the challenge and get the full benefit of Kings' gift?

With so much economic uncertainty in the air, Anderson was delighted, and somewhat surprised, by the amount of support for this year's fundraising event. Given that many people still feel the pinch of the recession, she said predictions about the public's generosity were hard to make.

"I think it's going really well," she said.

However, Anderson explained how the special circumstances -- the Kings' gift -- made all the difference.

"The match from Kings really helped because it occurred to people who don't have much money to give, to consider donating," she said.

Because Kings would match every dollar given, every penny donated would be doubled. It really was a case of "every little bit helps," allowing even those with tight budgets to contribute.

At the end of the night, the amount of cash received totaled $32,830, while pledges equaled $27,018, for a grand total of $59,848.

Though immensely positive, Anderson hopes those who still have pledges to fulfill will do so promptly. To get Kings full gift, she said the foundation will need to have cash in the bank.

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