Mardi Gras Event Benefits School
The gaiety and revelry of the Mardi Gras celebrations that light up the streets in New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro and Montreal is being echoed in the Sandhills Saturday, Feb. 13, when the Pope John Paul II Catholic School in Southern Pines holds its second annual Mardi Gras fundraiser.
The fun-filled event is being held at the Country Club of North Carolina from 6 to 10 p.m., and includes an hors d'oeuvres buffet, cash bar, a silent and live auction, raffles and entertainment at the gaming tables - blackjack, craps, roulette and poker.
Dr. Rick Kruska, principal of the school, is enthusiastic about the plans for the repeat of the first Mardi Gras celebration.
"We raised more than $50,000 for the school last year from the event, and 350 people from both the parishes - St. Anthony's and Sacred Heart - as well as from the community at large attended the traditional pre-Lenten festivities," he says.
He goes on to explain that the Mardi Gras theme and entertainment attracted a number of Sandhills residents who had little previous knowledge about the school, as well as old friends from both parishes.
"We hope to have the same success this year," he says.
The purpose of the fundraiser is three-pronged. One of the goals is to add to the electronic capabilities of the students and teachers by supplying each of next year's eighth-grade students with an individual desktop computer, as well as making Smart Boards available in all of the classrooms.
The school has as a second aim to expand the scope of its scholarships program in order to increase the diversity of the student population. And the third goal of the fundraiser is to help offset rising operational costs.
"The last is important, as we prepare in the fall for a move to our new campus near Camp Easter and Belle Meade," says Kruska. "However, we are just as committed to upgrading the computer capabilities of our students and teachers in this 21st century world, and to opening our doors to African-American and Hispanic students from all areas of our own and the surrounding counties through our scholarship program."
Richarda Gilbert and Amey Parkins are co-chairing this year's event. They are quick to point out that there are several new facets to the 2010 Mardi Gras celebration.
"We have added some new raffles to the mix," says Gilbert. "A tuition scholarship for one year, available for the purchase of a $10 raffle ticket, has proved very popular with parents who sell them to relatives - grandparents, aunts and uncles."
"The other major raffle is for a $10,000 cash prize," says Parkins. "For that one, tickets are $100, but only 250 tickets are available, so your chances are appreciably better than buying a lottery ticket. And in addition, the $100 ticket is tax-deductible."
A casino company has been engaged to run the gaming tables. This professional service furnishes all the equipment and the dealers. Attendees can buy chips for playing at the tables, just as in a Las Vegas setting. The difference is that when a person wants to cash out, the chips are exchanged for raffle tickets.
"Another feature that we added this year," says Gilbert, "is a different layout of the space with the gaming tables spotted between the silent auction displays, so there is a lot more room for people to move around and visit with friends. Christine Gilligan, a staff member at CCNC, has been really wonderful working with us to manage the traffic flow, and all the many details making up the evening."
According to the co-chairs, the hors d'oeuvres buffet will be open for an hour or more, and is placed on individual stations, so people can serve themselves as they wish. They can choose from, for instance, a Louisiana selection with shrimp and other New Orleans delicacies, a meat carving station, a fresh fruit and cheese table and an assortment of sweets.
Matt Holiday, a well-known South Carolina auctioneer, will motivate the crowd as he moves through a list of items in the live auction, such as a two-night getaway to Las Vegas, a one-week stay at a time share of your choice at any of more than 100 properties owned by RCI in the United States and foreign countries.
Other items to be auctioned off by Holiday include a wine dinner for eight people at Elliott's on Linden, two tickets to a Charlotte Bobcats vs. the Detroit Pistons game, and many other valuable articles, vacation stays and services.
The list of items on the silent auction tables is unique and lengthy and incorporates such unusual choices as "Ice Cream Every Day for a Year" or "Two Dozen Fresh Eggs a Week for a Year." Students' framed artwork and furniture decorated by students represent an always popular silent auction item.
Golf packages at Forest Creek, Country Club of Whispering Pines and Little River, as well as baskets containing family entertainment items like a Wii gaming system, or with gardening, sporting gear, spa and beauty, pet care, car care and music themes, are also offered in the silent auction.
Sponsors for the second annual Mardi Gras celebration of Pope John Paul II Catholic School include those returning from last year's sponsorship list - Pinehurst Medical Clinic, St. Joseph of the Pines, Sandhills Emergency Physicians, Freeman Barrett & Johnson and Belli Bambini.
New sponsors are Moore Appliance Services, Phillips Architecture, KR Mace Electric, Spark Enterprises, Boles Funeral Home, Dogwood Dental and CADE Inc.
Tickets are $50 per person, and may be obtained at these Southern Pines locations: The Country Bookshop, Gulley's Garden Center, Colors 'n Clay, Belli Bambini and HSP Realty Group.
Contact Pinehurst freelance writer Mary Elle Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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