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LEEF takes a swing at funding more education grants

Date: 9/28/2009

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

LONGMEADOW What do golf and education have in common?

"They're both something people pursue excellence in," Wendy Upson said. "That's an overriding theme. Extraordinary education is no stroke of luck."

That sentiment is the theme of this year's Longmeadow Education Excellence Foundation (LEEF) Gala. The organization that has provided $561,000 for 141 grants in Longmeadow's public schools will again be hosting its major fundraiser late this autumn.

The co-chairs of the 2009 event are Wendy Upson and Judy D'Angelo, and they are working with 100 volunteers to make the gala a fun and exciting evening.

Being offered again this year will be live and silent auctions full of extravagant prizes, including four one-day park hopper passes for Disney World and passes to Busch Gardens; Upson said the gala committee is currently working on securing plane tickets to go with these prizes.

Other items up for grabs include a trip to Hollywood to see a taping of "Dr. Phil" and a stay at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel, eight tickets to New England Patriots games, tickets to Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees games, a long weekend in Martha's Vineyard, gift certificates and, once again, the mystery boxes, with contents of at least a $50 value.

A raffle will also be offered, featuring prizes like a 32-inch flat screen TV and a laptop computer.

Donations are still being sought.

"We're looking for new entertainment options this year," Upson explained. "We noticed people sticking around last year, staying because they were having so much fun." Since the event will be hosted once again by Longmeadow Country Club, a Nintendo Wii station will be set up for a longest drive competition, and prizes will be awarded.

"It's an elegant affair with a hint of fun at the end," D'Angelo added.

The LEEF Gala will be taking place Nov. 14 beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $60 each. Those who have attended the affair in the past will soon be receiving an invitation in the mail for this year's event; tickets will also be available on LEEF's Web site at

"The donors and sponsors [for this event] come from a cross section of the community," Joe Aberdale, a LEEF board member, stated, "the parents of students, those without children, businesses ... It's truly a community event. It's a great party."