Despite virus, Banking on Education wins

Loudon County Education Foundation Executive Director Michele Lewis, left, presents Loudon County Schools Family Resource Center Director Cindy Purdy with a check after this year’s Banking on Education.

In a year when the COVID-19 pandemic has canceled many events, Loudon County Education Foundation ended the final major fundraiser of 2020 on a high note.

Banking on Education finished Aug. 22 during Loudon’s Riverfest with four $500 prize winners announced and nearly $8,000 collected.

“That went very well, even with their numbers being down so low,” Michele Lewis, LCEF executive director, said. “... People were really interested. We put our stand up next to the ice cream truck, which was a good location, and as people came over we would explain what we were doing, selling raffle tickets, the odds were obviously fantastic. But really the selling point was when people found out that the money would be donated to education. So many of the people there were families with kids in school, so they were willing to support the cause.”

LCEF sold raffle tickets from June until the day of the drawing. Of the four winners, two donated their money back to LCEF, Lewis said. She estimated only 74 of 400 tickets went unsold.

“Really our (LCEF board) vice chair Ernie Butler I think made the really big difference,” Lewis said. “He sold 162 tickets, and just by comparison generally what we ask our board members to sell is a minimum of 10. The way the raffle’s set up we have a total of 400 to sell. Obviously, it’s a numbers game, so we have to sell all of our tickets to make our goal. Ernie is a rock star.”

This year proved “challenging” in the midst of a pandemic, she said.

“What we do is we commit $2,000 for classroom supplies to each school system, so that’s a total of $4,000,” Lewis said. “With that $8,000 that has been raised, obviously that leaves some money over, and there is some cost in the event, the tickets and things like that, but the rest of it we’ll have available for classroom grants and also there may be some additional needs the schools don’t have budgeted this year for some of the COVID supplies and things like that. We’re certainly kind of trying to be available for the schools to come to us for that as well.”

Checks were presented Aug. 27 to Family Resource Centers at Lenoir City and Loudon County schools.

“The Loudon County Education Foundation has been a valuable partner to our schools beginning many years ago with Stuff the Bus,” Susan Fox, Lenoir City Schools FRC director, said in an email correspondence. “We appreciate the efforts of their board and the Loudon County community to provide additional funds to support classroom needs. In a COVID year, each student is requested to have their own school supplies with no sharing. Funds such as these allow our office to provide assistance when requested by teachers and/or parents. The Loudon County community is to be applauded for their overwhelming support of the Banking on Education project.”

Cindy Purdy, Loudon County Schools FRC director, said the district’s donation will largely go toward dry erase lapboards for North Middle, Eaton Elementary and Greenback schools. The other six schools got lapboards last year.

“In terms of fundraising, we probably are (done for the year), because Run LoCo would have been our next big thing,” Lewis said. “At this point we’re working on the Tate & Lyle grants. Those funds have already come in and the applications have come in, and so we’re working on distributing those funds. I’ll still be doing some fundraising efforts and especially if the schools have specific needs that they need additional money for, but it’s just not a great environment to be asking people for money and it’s not a great environment to be doing special events. We’ll keep moving forward as much as possible.

“... I’m just really glad that Banking on Education did as well as it did,” she added. “I’m excited about that, and I really look forward to Riverfest for next year as well.”