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Local PTAs trying to find ways to fundraise during the pandemic

PTA presidents say fundraising is going to be a huge challenge during the pandemic so they're trying to get creative in what they can do.

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Not only have families and teachers had to adjust to COVID-19 this school year, so have Parent-Teacher Associations. Many said the pandemic is making it harder to raise money.

Right now, PTAs cannot do those events and fundraisers they normally would do every fall. One big challenge for PTAs is fundraising.

Erin Larson is the PTA President at Norge Elementary School in Williamsburg-James City County. “We're really trying hard to figure out what we're going to do for our fundraising efforts,” Larson said. “We're just hoping to make it by this year.”

Larson reached out to community members through social media, asking for face mask donations. She said Norge has a fundraising opportunity coming up where they would normally give baked goods in exchange for donations, but that's not an option because of COVID-19.

“I’m struggling with asking people for money now, a lot of people are hurting,” Larson said. “I don't want to say it feels in poor taste to ask for donations from our families because they've always been supportive, but we need them to know we understand where they are.”

Rayna Labine, the PTA president for Magruder Elementary School in York County, said this year is a lot different because there are no volunteers allowed in the school, so they're trying to go virtual with fundraising.

She said their fundraising this year has been Spirit Nights with local businesses. They are planning to work with Apex fundraising in February/March but waiting to see if restrictions will lighten but expecting it to be a virtual event of some sort.

“Bringing local businesses into the fold is also something we are open to do and have a fundraising platform called Memberhub, in which PTA members get discounts on items through the web,” Labine said. “This has been a work in progress as we hope to build the community ties with the elementary school to help one another.”

Labine went on to say, "In April, we did apply for a Tik ToK grant and we were granted $5,000 to help Magruder. We allocated $4,600 to purchase iPads, iPad cases and two-year protection, 2,000 disposable masks, and then $400 to the social services of the school to help with internet and electricity help while the families were getting online. Grants are another way to help PTA's with funds to help the families and students. 

"We continually have meetings once or twice a month to come up with more creative ideas to help students and families come together."

Ashley Smith, the president of Yorktown Elementary Magnet School PTA, said they're trying to get creative to recoup lost fundraising opportunities, but the biggest difference this year is communication. Right now, they're doing Falcon Birthday visits, visiting students at pre-arranged times.

“As an organization, it breaks our hearts not being able to reach all of our families,” Smith said. “Normally we'd be knocking on restaurant doors, doing spirit nights, walk-a-thons, and other things and we're not even allowed near a building."