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Phoning in the funds: LEEF fundraiser a success

In addition to the LEEF Gala and the annual resource guide, the spring phone-a-thon serves as one of the major fundraisers for the grant-awarding organization. Samantha Quirk (above) does her part. Reminder Publications photo by Courtney Llewellyn
By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

LONGMEADOW The LEEF Gala is the largest fundraising effort the Longmeadow Educational Excellence Foundation (LEEF) hosts every year. The money raised by the town-wide party goes toward funding unique grants proposed by teachers throughout the Longmeadow school district to enhance the learning experience of their students. The grants provide that extra bit of education that may not be covered by a stringent school budget.

The gala isn't the only fundraiser, however. Every year, LEEF puts together a resource guide for the town, raising funds through advertisements. The organization also hosts a successful phone-a-thon.

The phone-a-thon raised nearly $60,000 last year. This fundraiser, in adddtion to the other two, contribute to the nearly $100,000 raised each year for grants. Dan Grow, a co-chair of the phone-a-thon, said the goal of LEEF is to give most of that money back to the community, through the grants for the schoolchildren.

"The people we call primarily have kids in the schools," Grow said, "and we get a lot of repeat donators."

Patrick Sullivan, Grow's co-chair, explained that they mail out donation forms first and then call those who do not respond that way. He said the goal of this year's drive was $55,000.

A number of volunteers came to help out at the phone-a-thon this year, calling residents from their headquarters at the First Church of Christ. Grow said Monday and Tuesday evenings (March 31 and April 1) were the busiest, but five callers worked Wednesday evening as well.

Three-year volunteer Samantha Quirk, mother to Emily, 9, and Will, 6, said she was happy to help out by serving as a caller.

Barry O'Connor, who serves as a co-chair of the grant committee and as a fifth-year caller, said the phone-a-thon and LEEF were important because "in a lot of ways, these people are giving money that can't come from anywhere else."

First-year volunteer Sherry Knight, the mother of two middle school-aged boys, said she thought her experience helping out had been great.

"Doing this, you do so much for the kids," she added.

Kim Conant, bookkeeper for LEEF, said to date, the 2008 phone-a-thon has raised $47,500, but still hopes to reach their goal of $55,000 after all gifts come in through the follow-up mail campaign in pledges.

The funds raised will be doled out in grants in October.