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MACCRAY Foundation gears up for first fundraiser

CLARA CITY -- Board members of a new educational foundation in the MACCRAY School District are hoping to benefit students by giving people a way to make tax-deductible donations directly to the district.

The MACCRAY 2180 Foundation will have its first fundraiser this week. A free will donation spaghetti supper and a silent auction will begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday at MACCRAY High School in Clara City.

Foundation board members gathered at the district offices in Clara City last week to stuff envelopes to mail information to local businesses. They will work next on a mailing to alumni.

Foundation board chair Candice Jaenisch said that parents in the district had been talking for years about finding different ways to save money. Many district residents have tired of purchasing food or other items from students, knowing that school programs see only a small percentage of the money they're spending.

"We thought if we set up a foundation, so people could get a tax deduction," it might provide more benefit to the district, Jaenisch said. "Our goal is to get money directly to classrooms."

The group has partnered with the Southwest Initiative Foundation to administer the funds and handle the legal work of setting up the charitable foundation.

The foundation will award grants twice a year. The first will come next fall. The areas supported will depend on what teachers ask for in their grant applications, they said.

Work on starting the foundation started at the end of October last year. Board member Jean Santjer sought information and advice from the school foundation in her hometown of Perham.

"It really did all just fall into place," Jaenisch said.

The foundation needed $11,000 in start-up money to establish its account with the Initiative Foundation.

The Clara City Community Fund had been defunct for some years but still had some funds on hand -- $11,500. "They were waiting for somewhere to donate it," said treasurer Melissa Hoffman Bodin.

So far, they said, it seems that people in the district's three communities of Maynard, Clara City and Raymond support the idea. Even before the first fundraising event, the foundation's funds have grown to $20,000.

Donations may be designated for specific purposes or school buildings. They may also be specified to go into an endowment.

"We hope this builds a sense of community between the three communities," said Santjer.

Last year, student fundraisers collected gross receipts of about $226,000, but they probably actually received less than one-quarter of that, with the rest going to overhead for non-local fundraising companies.

"I don't think this will eliminate all of the fundraisers," said board member Toni Vick, but it should cut down on them. Some of the fundraising suppers, or those that help support local businesses will probably continue.

The foundation may be reached at MACCRAY 2180 Foundation, Box 218, Clara City, MN 56222.