Denim and Diamonds: Perfect pairing for DeWitt elementary schools

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Sydney Kuenzer

Attendees sip and survey the many baskets on silent auction.

After a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus, parents, teachers and community members returned to the Banquet & Conference Center of DeWitt on Nov. 5 for the DeWitt Elementary PTA’s long-running Denim and Diamonds fundraiser. 

The evening consisted of silent and live auctions, a ticketed game of Heads or Tails and the Lucky Diamond necklace raffle – all to raise money for the area’s elementary schools.

Heads or Tails, a chance game, awarded the winner a $200 gift card. The live auction included offerings such as a casino and concert night package, a Grand Haven getaway and a full orthodontics treatment. Only 75 tickets were sold for the Lucky Diamond necklace raffle, where all ticket buyers were given a wrapped package. When the packages were unwrapped, one lucky individual found the winning ticket inside.

Despite the excitement of the live auction and raffles, the main event of the evening was the silent auction. White included some big-ticket items, such as an MSU football jersey signed by Kenneth Walker III, most items were custom-made, themed baskets. The baskets included everything from a full bar cart worth of liquor to Disney stuffed animals and books to a baking kit. Five long tables of baskets filled much of the ballroom.

More than 40 baskets were put together by classrooms and parents said event chair and PTA president Angie Straus. “Each classroom at the elementary schools, we’ll reach out and say … ‘Hi Mrs. Sampson, do you have someone who would want to create a basket for you, for your classroom?’”  From there, parent volunteers worked together to purchase the items in the basket or solicit donations from businesses. 

The classroom partnership with the event didn’t end there. Many teachers created their own silent auction item by offering their time to have a unique experience with students, such as an after-school art lesson, attending a movie together with friends or having breakfast together in the classroom.

Not only that, but some teachers volunteered at the event. “In return for their volunteering, [they] get a donation that they can use to provide materials for the classrooms,” said PTA secretary Jamie Young.

Straus said the money goes “right back to the schools. In previous years we’ve funded field trips, we’ve done Chromebooks for a couple classes, we’ve done special curriculum.” The PTA has also awarded grants to teachers in a process similar to receiving a state grant. 

“The teachers told us that it’s really helpful for their classrooms,” said DeWitt elementary parent Danielle Curtin. “It was a good reason to raise some money for the kids.”

The 2022 event raised more than $30,000.

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