With some creativity and online organization, the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) at Union Ridge Elementary School took its annual Read-A-Thon. The PTO had to change their usual classroom and school-based fundraising to activities that could be done online or at home and created fun for hundreds of kids.
The Read-A-Thon is the largest annual fundraiser for Union Ridge Elementary School, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to fund school activities and teacher grants. The fundraiser also encourages students to take a break from online learning to “enjoy a good book.” The PTO spent time figuring out ways to make the Read-A-Thon happen in a virtual format. They ended up with several Read-A-Thon activities: a reading bingo card that is completed at home, video of local celebrities reading children's books and photo contests on Facebook.
Students still raised money with pledges for reading — but the PTO used an online site for donations instead of cash and checks. Every student who raised $10 or more received a prize. Corporate donors provided prizes for top winners — an Apple iPad Mini and Amazon Kindle Fire from iQ Credit Union, a Nintendo Switch Lite from MAJ Commercial Real Estate, and a gift card from Vinnie’s Pizza. Students raised a total of $8,400, with Rylee Roth, Grayson Ashenfelter, Madeline Sullens and Robert Kenck taking the top spots.
The bingo activities gave students creative ways to fulfill their pledges. Squares on the board included reading to a pet or stuffed animal, reading in the bathtub and reading in your pajamas. Students completed as many as they could before emailing their bingo cards to the PTO. Winners were randomly selected and included Avery Smith, Austin Freeman, Lola Dipzinski and Eli Stone. Several prizes were also awarded through a Facebook contest for pictures of kids reading in the unusual places suggested on the reading Bingo cards.
Instead of in-person book readings like they held in previous years, the PTO asked local celebrities to submit videos of themselves reading books. Every week, the PTO posted new videos on Facebook and on their webpage. Two favorites were Rally, the mascot for the Ridgefield Raptors West Coast League baseball team, reading “Mice at Bat” from the stadium seats, and Ridgefield Police Department Officer Tyler King reading “If You Give a Moose a Muffin” from the driver’s seat of a police car.
Students could also participate in a door decorating contest. Students picked a book theme, then decorated a door or window at home. Naomi Heim, Eli Stone and Madeline Sullens came up with the winning designs.
PTO Co-President Heidi Rashoff was proud of how well the students, families and teachers adapted to the changes in the event.
“It has been so exciting to be able to continue to do fundraisers and events from home for the kids!” she said in a news release.