Local fundraising affected by closures

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By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer

Region – The changes that have been made due to COVID-19 closures have not been easy for businesses, schools or families. Many local non-profit organizations have also been affected as major fundraising events cannot be held.

The Boylston Education Foundation (BEF) awards grants in the fall to provide educational and classroom enrichment materials falling outside of the normal school budget. Grants help to decrease out-of-pocket expenses for the teachers. Items granted in the past include technology, art supplies, library books and science supplies.

BEF Co-President Nicki Fox said that the organization’s annual Bingo Night had to be cancelled. This event typically is a fun time for the entire community to come together and usually has high participation. 

“The less money raised means the less we will be able to put back into the school,” she said. “We will do something and work with the principal and decide the best route of action when it is safe to do so.” 

Another issue that BEF is sensitive to is the fact that many families are now struggling, and they do not want their events to further burden families.

President of Northborough Education Foundation (NEF) Noel Silva said their two biggest events, Team Trivia Night and Princess Tea, had to be cancelled. Their staff recognition Golden Apple campaign that does well for teacher appreciation week and end of the year gifts also was paused. 

NEF awarded $65,000 in grants last fall. Before the closures, only five grant proposals were received. Currently, they do not have funds to distribute more grants. Schools will continue to need the support and NEF will be creative to meet those needs.

“We want to provide whatever we can,” Silva said. “We are discussing the possibility of changing the grant cycle when schools reopen in the fall. “There’s no rule book. It will depend on how things shake out. We want to move forward.”

School Parent Teacher Organizations (PTOs) are also affected.

The Fannie E. Proctor Elementary School in Northborough was not able to hold its annual kids’ fair and silent auction this spring, which typically raise $10,000.

“We do anticipate the budget looking different for the 2020-2021 school year than it has in the past,” said PTO President Jennifer Kenny. “This might mean adjusting funding for certain programs.”

Northborough’s Marguerite E. Peaslee Elementary School PTO chairs Meghan Rossetti and Lindsey Moussa were disappointed to have to postpone the anticipated Harlem Wizards basketball game vs. school staff and pre-game restaurant night fundraisers until April 2021.

“We are pre-planning different scenarios for our events next year,” Rossetti said. “We hope to move forward with the same events understanding the timing may shift or it may be different than how it has been in the past.”

Also unknown is how local businesses, which highly support fundraising events, will rebound. 

“It’s a good time for the school community to rally around past and present business sponsors to show gratitude and appreciation,” Moussa noted.

“Our hope is that this unprecedented time brings the community closer together,” Kenny said. “We understand everyone is facing hardships right now.”