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LEEF Gala is a 'tremendous success'

Artist Heidi Coutu stands next to her painting, which she donated to the Gala auction. Reminder photo courtesy of Joe Aberdale
~ Submitted by Joe Aberdale, LEEF Publicity Chairman

The annual LEEF Gala was held on Nov. 18 at Chez Josef in Agawam. Four hundred twenty people attended the gala which included live and silent auctions, music and dancing by the Frank Manzi Band, as well as music by Longmeadow High School Musicians. A total of $60,000 was raised.

The Longmeadow Educational Excellence Foundation (LEEF) is a private, volunteer, non-profit organization, established in 2001, to enrich, enhance and support the quality of education in the Longmeadow public schools. LEEF is committed to underwriting grants to provide the schools, grades K-12, with extraordinary opportunities beyond the scope of tax-supported budgets. The money raised will be deposited into the LEEF endowment fund. Three hundred and thirty items were auctioned off. The auctions featured such items as weekend getaways, tickets to major sporting events, Broadway shows, jewerly, dental treatments and gift certificates to area restaurants. Donations came from individuals, families and corporate sponsors. The evening also featured a media presentation of LEEF grants narrated by Dr. Scott AndersEn, Superintendent of Schools.

An exciting part of the night's success came from LEEF'S $4850. ebay auction of a guitar donated by Aaron Lewis, lead singer of the band Staind. Lewis, a 1990 graduate of Longmeadow High School and former student of choral director Peter Thomsen, donated the guitar upon hearing about LEEF and its mission from Thomsen.

The winning bid was made by 32 -year-old Kelly Duluoz of Kent Washington. Duluoz will be presented the signed guitar by Lewis at a solo concert he will give at his alma mater to benefit the high school's music department.

There were 110 volunteers who worked on the Gala, including parents from all six schools, as well as friends in the community. Students and staff from the Longmeadow High School art department made decorations for the affair while other students sold raffle tickets and assisted with the auctions.

The turnout and money raised is a reflection of our commitment to education and our support for one of our greatest assets our children and our teachers. The Board of Directors of LEEF is very grateful to all who helped make the evening a tremendous success.