Archive for Thursday, November 9, 2006

Gala a ball for schools

November 9, 2006

Stepping through the dusty parking lot at Cherokee Valley Farms and into the barn that housed Lansing Educational Foundation Fund's inaugural Blue Jean Ball, you might be fooled into forgetting you were in the country.

Strings of Christmas lights wrapped about the rafters cast a cheery glow on the hundreds of people gathered for the gala, a benefit for the fund. Denim-clad denizens of Lansing danced to the country-western band and shuffled through the long tables of silent auction items.

"For a first inaugural event like that, I don't think it could have turned out any better," said Kyle Kelly, president of LEFF. "I was very pleased."

And though the final figures haven't been calculated, it's clear the Blue Jean Ball is LEFF's most successful fundraiser, to date.

"I think we're talking $15,000 to $20,000," Kelly said.

But beyond the dollars and cents, it's an affirmation for LEFF members to know that the community's support is worthy of all their hard work. The event sold out all of its 280 tickets.

"Just to have such a great response for our first time doing the event was just phenomenal," said Kelly, who added it was all thanks to the hard work of the organizing committee. "I know they put in tons of work and a lot of meetings and just went above and beyond in terms of making it a success."

The work seems to have paid off, and Mary Alice Schroeger, director of the Nov. 4 event, said the community response since the event has been overwhelmingly positive. The good feedback just seems to continue rolling in.

"Everybody had a good time, which was our intent," Schroeger said. "You know, it's funny, what I've gotten is, 'Wow, we didn't expect such a great event!'"

Schroeger's only regret about the ball is that it could not include more of the Lansing community. Because LEFF is committed to keeping the event at a local venue, the ball had a maximum attendance of about 280 at Cherokee Valley Farms, which is on East Gilman Road. Schroeger regretted having to turn people away after the event sold out.

"Part of our vision statement is to build bridges and connections in the community between people, as well," Schroeger said. "Not just for the support of the school, but for the support of the community. So we'd really like to bring in more people."

It took about 18 months of planning for this Blue Jean Ball, and it will be two years before Lansing sees the next one, Schroeger said.

"We've talked about this and what we are planning on doing is making this a biannual event because it is such a huge effort," Schroeger said.

And in that time the planning committee is going to work to find new ways that more people can be included. Schroeger said she knew this already: They'll need to expand the planning committee and even form subcommittees - anything to lighten the load from what was an intense amount of coordination from this year's committee.

"We really needed to have teams of people :," Schroeger said, but added, "It came together at the end."


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