It is pretty evident that supporters of St. Mary’s School in Alma were up for a challenge this spring.
They raised $34,000 during their annual Mardi Gras Auction, more than doubling the $16,000 donation that three organizations challenged them to match to fund scholarships.
“Many thanks to Jolt Credit Union and the Warner Family Advised endowment funds of the Catholic Community Foundation of Mid-Michigan and Lux Funeral Home,” said Nancy Schultz, school business manager at Nativity of the Lord Parish in Alma. “Because of their challenge to match their combined $16,000 donation, St. Mary’s community rallied to raise $34,000 for an auction scholarship total of $50,000.”
Schultz said COVID restrictions forced the school to abandon their annual fundraising party and in-person auction. They replaced it with a week-long online auction April 11-17. She said things got interesting Saturday night when larger items were on the auction block and friends were texting each other pushing up the bids.
“Our goal was to match the $16,000,” she said. “But the audience topped the challenge for a great cause.”
Schultz said contributors believe in St. Mary’s school and trust in the administrators, faculty and staff. “They have supported all that we have done,” she said, adding that contributions from members of Nativity of the Lord Parish were strong. “Parishioners know that the Catholic school is important to the future of the Church and our faith. It’s where it starts.”
Parents are in the process of applying for 2021-2022 tuition assistance. Scholarships will be awarded according to the needs of the families. Schultz said the school expects an enrollment of 87 students in Young Fives to 6th grade and 60 preschoolers, double the enrollment of five years ago. For the first time next fall, individual classes are expected to replace split classes in first and second grades.
Although COVID has challenged all aspects of school operations, classes have remained face to face during the entire current school year.
“COVID has actually built our program because parents trust us and know that their children are safe here,” Schultz said. “They know our kids come first.”
Although the new online format was successful, the business manager said she is looking forwarding to returning to an in-person Mardi Gras Fundraiser next year. “We all missed having a party.”
Written by Joan Ramm