High Rollin’ On The Beach

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    Beach School PTO Fundraiser

    The Fort Myers Beach Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) hosts the 3rd annual “High Rollin’ on The Beach” Gaming Fundraiser to benefit the Beach Elementary School on Saturday, February 22, on the Fort Myers Beach Woman’s Club campus at 175 Sterling Avenue from 6 to 10 p.m. This year’s theme is “Wish Upon A Star!” Tickets are $60-per-person. General admission tickets include $10,000 in “funny money,” hors d’oeuvres from The Dog House Restaurant, gaming & prizes, cash bar, and dancing. Limited VIP Table for eight are available at $600 and include $15,000 in “funny money,” free champagne, dedicated cocktail waitress and valet parking.  Purchase tickets at highrollinonthebeach.eventsmart.com

    “High Rollin’” is a gaming experience where guests play with ‘funny money,’ explained Shannon. “Gamers receive raffle tickets as their winnings to place into baskets to attempt to win fantastic prizes, as well as participating in Live and Silent Auctions for other terrific gift packages. We will have blackjack, poker, roulette, craps tables and the home-grown ‘Wheel of Fortune!’ The Poker Tournament has a $75 buy-in with payouts for 1st and 2nd Place. For $20, you spin the wildly popular ‘Wheel of Fortune’ in an attempt to win gift cards from businesses and attractions from all over the island, with each prize worth at least $20 and many much more.”

    The Fundraiser is in a large rental tent, Shannon said. “All activities occur inside that, though we do utilize the FMB Woman’s Club building for its restrooms. The tent is not heated, however, so dress appropriately, but once we drop the tent walls, if anything it becomes warm inside, so you can step in the Woman’s Club to cool off. The dress code is what we refer to as ‘Beach Dressy,’ so the ladies, for example, will be in everything from high heels to flip-flops!”

    Shannon hopes for an attendance of at least 225 people. “Last year we had just over 200 folks, and that was up from our first year of roughly 150, so we are slowly growing and hope to maintain that momentum. While we prefer you purchase your tickets in advance, as that assists us in the planning process, you can absolutely buy tickets at the door, as the tent can hold a huge crowd.”

    Wish Upon A Star!

    This year’s theme is “Wish Upon A Star!” “We went with this for a couple of reasons,” Shannon related. “The first is that we already had many star decorations, and as the event grows, so do our expenses, so every dollar we do not spend on things like decorations is one more we donate to the kids. Most importantly, our island children are the real stars of our community and all our fundraising efforts benefit them! We encourage everyone to take a few moments during the party to check out the star decorations because the school kids write Thank You Notes to those who attend and we attach them to those stars.”

    High-Rollin-on-the-Beach
    Beach School PTO stretches their funds a long way to support students.

    The 2019 event raised $22,500, Shannon said, “This year, we would love to break $25,000! The FMB Elementary PTO budget for this academic year to contribute to the Beach Elementary School is $33,850 so you can see how important this evening is to that goal. Because the Beach Elementary School has so few students, at about 100, it receives a tiny allocation from the Lee County School District, as funding comes on a per-pupil basis. Our funds help the school to afford class field trips, the End of The Year Carnival, Teacher Appreciation Week gift certificates, grants, class software that the District mandates the teachers use but it does not provide and even things like paper, laminating materials and administrative office supplies, so we pay for a lot of diverse things, as well as putting money aside for capital improvement projects like the Sensory Garden, playground shade structures and benches for parents while they wait to pick up their children.”

    She encourages everyone to purchase a VIP Table! “With a VIP table, you have reserved seats for your 8 guests. Those with general admission tickets do not have seats, except at the Gaming Tables, and must stand at the high top tables, while VIP patrons have a designated table to enjoy the night with their friends and guests. One thing we noticed last year about those with general admission tickets, however, is they did a lot of dancing, as we have a big dance floor and everyone took advantage of that!”

    In addition to ticket sales, there are corporate sponsorships available. “These are the Jack at $500, Queen at $1,500, King at $2,500, and Ace at $5,000,” Shannon explained. “So far, we have the Fort Myers Beach Kiwanis Club at the Ace level; Distinctive Beach Rentals and The Whale / Doc Ford’s / Dixie Fish Company Restaurants at King; Diversified Yacht Services, Fiesta Tents, The Dog House, and The Torgerson Family at Queen; and Lahaina Realty and Veronique Pasqual at Jack. Another important sponsor is The Print Shop who does all our work for pennies! New this year is all sponsors receive VIP benefits. My goal, however, is to recruit an additional two or three major sponsors, so our ancillary fundraising initiatives like the Silent Auction and Live Auction items become additional gaming prizes rather than separate categories. If you can be a major sponsor, please contact me immediately.”

    Fort Myers Beach Fundraiser-High Rollin on the Beach
    High Rollin’ 2019

    For 2020, however, the Silent and Live Auctions remain separate, and Shannon is excited about the gift options. “Our major prizes are two vacation packages to Cape Cod, though you must cover your own travel. We have numerous gift certificates to island hotels and restaurants as well as tickets to the Key West Express, Sea World, Busch Gardens, fishing trips, water sports, local artwork, pampering packages, and more. We combine many of these into one so each is worth at least $200, with many exceeding $500!”

    Community Treasure

    Shannon feels the Beach Elementary School suffers from two major misconceptions: “The first is that every child comes from a wealthy family, but actually the vast amount of Beach School parents are island bartenders, waiters, waitresses and service industry personnel who keep our tourist industry strong. The truth is that if the Lee County School District did not already offer each student a free breakfast and lunch, the Beach Elementary School would qualify for that due to its Low Income Family status. The second misconception is that every Lee County school receives an equal amount of District funding, and as a result, the Beach Elementary School does great because it has so few students, but again the reverse is true. School money is distributed on a per student basis. Our small student population means we do not receive any money for things like new books and desks and software. When people learn that, it is mindblowing!”

    She believes, however, the small student size is the Beach Elementary School’s greatest asset: “Each child gets tremendous individual attention from the teachers and staff, who treat them like family. Our Principal, Karen Manzi, does an amazing job of stretching every dollar and our kids excel academically. The Beach Elementary School is a true community treasure!”

    For more information, visit highrollinonthebeach.eventsmart.com, email highrollin@fmbpto.org, visit the Facebook page, or call Chair Shannon Orlandini at
    239-285-5015 or Aurora Perino at 239-333-7845.