White Salmon schools will be the beneficiaries of the great success of this year's Grape Escape, the annual fundraiser for the White Salmon Valley Education Foundation (WSVEF).
"We are thrilled to say the evening's festivities netted a total of $107,000 for our local schools," said WSVEF President Sue Davis. "That's an increase of more than 50 percent over last year, and just goes to highlight the amazing generosity of our community. We are bowled over by the continuing support shown to our schools."
In addition to the Grape Escape funds, the WSVEF also received a total of $19,000 in fall donations from Insitu. The company gave $10,000 for district-wide professional development for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) teachers, as well as $8,510 for Science Lab Equipment and $490 for the Electric Car Program at Columbia High School in September.
"This is just one example of how our many local corporations are stepping up to help build and develop the children of our community," said Davis.
A number of local wineries contributed to the evening's success with some of their finest vintages, which were poured throughout the evening and packaged up with many of the auction items. Many individuals made outstanding private donations as well. After receiving a "Lifetime Benefactor" award recognizing their decades of community contributions, Wally and Priscilla Stevenson made the night's largest individual donation, with $30,000 going to the WSVEF.
The entire event would not have been possible without the countless gifts of time, services and goods from dozens of others.
Said WSVEF Executive Director Anne-Marie Slater, "This was a product of many people doing many things well. Each and every person gave extra effort and time from their busy schedules to make this event happen. We pulled it off, and I've heard from many that they had a wonderful time. So thank you from myself, and our Board of Directors, for your amazing input and help."
It was a wonderful time indeed. Attendees were treated to demonstrations of their past donations in today's classrooms. Members of Columbia's brand new marching band were on hand to strut their stuff. Two cars, and the teams that made them, drove home the benefits of Columbia's Electric Car Program. And youngsters from Whitson Elementary showed off their creations from the Lego Robotics Club.
There was also a video featuring students, teachers, and administrators talking about the differences WSVEF grants have made in their lives and schools.
"We are grateful to live in a community that supports education so strongly. Despite tough economic times, our district is now experiencing hiring, growing programs, and engaging learning," said Slater. "This is a great place to be a student!"
The evening's success comes just in time for the group's second round of funding for this school year. Applications for the $20,000 winter grants are due Friday, Oct. 26. Successful applicants will receive their funds in time for the Spring Semester.
Since 2006, the WSVEF has granted or secured grants totaling more than $725,000 for over 77 programs in the White Salmon Valley School District.
For more information, or to make a donation, visit www.wsvef.org or call 493-1175.