Dr. Seuss once wrote, “You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!” As we navigate our new normal, school-aged children need help and encouragement to reach for their dreams now more than ever. This holiday season, you can help kids in the Anacortes School District (ASD) reach their full potential by participating in the Celebrate the Season event presented by the Anacortes School Foundation (ASF) December 1-12. You can even attend in your festive Grinch pjs since the event is online!

ASF Executive Director Marta McClintock puts together supplies for student Chia Pet Hats. Photo credit: Rachel Esposito

As a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, ASF relies on contributions from local businesses and individuals to fund their important work. This year, they have an ambitious goal for Celebrate the Season to fund some very important, COVID-19 relief programs. “We are raising money this year for COVID relief in the schools,” says ASF Executive Director Marta McClintock, “and that’s really our main focus just because there’s such a huge need, especially for teachers who are getting creative and thinking outside the box with online and hybrid learning.”

One of the really cool programs they are raising funds for is called Science to Go. Science to Go builds on an online curriculum that is being used throughout the country for science instruction. “We are the only district that I know of in Washington State that is actually putting together science kits every month.” The kits are grade-appropriate for kindergarten through fifth grade and include everything the students need to perform fun science experiments. For example, one of the first month’s experiments included grass seeds and a piece of panty hose for students to learn how to germinate the seeds, and then turn it into their own human Chia Pet head. “I am really looking forward to seeing photos of those that the kids send in,” McClintock shares, “of them wearing their chia heads.”

McClintock says these kits are so important because it levels the education field. “Yes, there are a lot of parents who can afford to buy these supplies, but in terms of equity we wanted to make sure all the kids had the same materials,” she explains. “It also helps make sure the experiment is done correctly, since everyone is using the same supplies, it makes it more scientific.”

Two AMS students volunteer to put together Science to Go kits. Photo credit: Rachel Esposito

Twelve volunteers put together 973 kits for one month, and they will be continuing to do so for the rest of the school year. Parents then do a drive-through pick up. Items in the kits were locally sourced. Bayshore Office Products, Safeway and Sebo’s Hardware are all giving discounts and/or donating items to support the kids, making each kit about $3 per kid per month. “It still ends up being about $20,000 for the whole school year, so we really need to raise money for that program,” McClintock shares.

The other big one is mental health. “Knowing that especially our middle and high school students right now are having a lot of anxiety and depression as a result of staying home and being disconnected socially, we are working with Island Hospital to help fund counseling for all grade levels, but with a focus on middle and high school students,” she says. “We have a pretty ambitious goal to try and raise $150,000 online. It’s a big undertaking, but we know the need is there and Anacortes is an incredibly supportive community so we are hoping people will tune in. And it’s going to be a lot of fun! With everything getting cancelled we are salvaging some of the fun of the holidays by doing a virtual event and bring people together even in a small way.”

12 Days of Holiday Cheer and Giving

Don’t wait, as the early bird gets the perks for this fun event! Register now through November 25 and receive an Event Bag delivered to your door by ASD staff that includes an exclusively designed reusable bag, a Celebrate auction booklet featuring sneak peaks of the fabulous auction items and the chance to win one of 12 amazing gifts that will be given away each day of the event starting on December 1! Gifts include an Echo Dot, $50 gift certificate to Anthony’s Restaurant, and 10 more amazing gifts!

Volunteers Carrie Worra and Therese Rudzis assemble kits for Science to Go . Photo credit: Rachel Esposito

The silent auction and raise the paddle fun starts December 8 online. Bid on dozens of items from local businesses including incredible gift cards, gift baskets and items. From a grooming certificate for Smarter Than Your Dog and a firepit with a s’mores kit, to a holiday cocktail basket and kid-friendly game baskets, there is something for everyone on your holiday list, or as a little holiday pick-me-up for yourself. You can donate to the raise the paddle any time after December 8.

Be sure to look for the dessert delivery item that will be a “buy it now” item. You will receive an amazing six-inch mini cake from a local baker who is an Anacortes High School alum, delivered to your door by an ASD principal on December 11. This way, you have your gourmet dessert just in time for the live auction!

Then, watch live December 12 starting at 6:30 p.m. for the pre-live auction entertainment. Listen to holiday music by current and former Anacortes students, learn about how the live auction works, and see previews of the items. There will be something for everyone in the live auction too! Fun trips, both local and a bit further away, including a getaway to Sonoma wine country. Gourmet home dinner deliveries for smaller groups, 6-8, will be a fantastic break from cooking this holiday season. And for those who love to get out and about, there are some really awesome activity packages including an electric bike and a kayak package!

At 7:00 p.m., the live auction will start with Anacortes High School class of ‘88 alum Stephen Kilbreath and his mad auctioneer skills. He’s done close to 30 virtual auctions already this year, so you can be sure he is ready to keep you having fun from the comfort of your couch in your jammies while you eat your mini cake (or two, no judgement here!) and sip your hot cocoa. His cohost is Pete Mayer, class of ’87 so there just might be some good-natured alumni-rivalry in store for all attendees, and of course, plenty of holiday spirit.

To register, head on over the Anacortes Schools Foundation website. We are sure your heart will grow three sizes seeing the good your contributing to our local youth!


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