Wood Oaks PTA fundraisers aim to help local restaurants
The benefits of an involved community.
That's the bottom line in an effort by the parent-teacher organization of Wood Oaks Junior High School, part of Northbrook School District 27.
The Wood Oaks PTA has arranged a dine-and-share program with restaurants to get the school community to patronize them. In return the restaurant will donate back a percentage of proceeds to the PTA for events and to benefit teachers.
COVID-19 has obviously hammered businesses and it's also done the PTA no favor, eliminating book fairs, hot lunch sales and other usual sources of funds.
"In the beginning it was all about raising funds for the PTA, but now we're focusing on businesses that could use our support. We look at restaurants, and we look at places that maybe are new in town," said Anna Harris, District 27 Council PTA communications lead and Wood Oaks PTA co-president with Debbie Salzer-Rothschild.
"We just felt like they're working so hard to stay open and do well. I feel they go above and beyond, and I felt like we could support them more," Harris said.
School-business arrangements are nothing new and are widespread. Wood Oaks has done occasional fundraising partnerships for years.
What makes this effort different is the frequency factor of focusing on a specific restaurant or business for a day or three, then moving to another one in relatively short order.
Accompanied by the nifty hashtag, #wosupportslocal, the next confirmed excursion is a preorder-and-pickup deal with the Do-Rite Donuts truck on April 16. Also on the itinerary are Marisa's Pizza from April 18-22, Josh's Hot Dogs on April 27 and a three-day drive to Trattoria Oliverii from May 18-20.
"I don't know of any PTAs that have done the doughnuts," Harris said, who will be correcting this grave and mouthwatering injustice. She and Salzer-Rothschild are assisted in these fundraisers by Risa Applebaum, Andrea Dalinka, Karen Frum, Sandra Otero, Marlyse Serlin and Mileen Zucker.
The goal is to make it a weekly event through the end of the school year.
"We feel that supporting local business has become more important than ever. We really care about these businesses," she said.
It also helps support Wood Oaks teachers through the occasional catered lunch, doughnuts to celebrate Valentine's Day or hot cocoa on St. Patrick's Day. Zucker, on the Wood Oaks PTA Teacher Appreciation Committee, said there's plans to bring in lunch during Teacher Appreciation Week May 3-7.
"Most of them have been teaching in-person since August, in a very challenging hybrid model, and now more than ever the parents appreciate this so much," Zucker said.
Arnie Krause of The Claim Company, who worked with the Wood Oaks PTA in March, thought their fundraiser was a nice idea. He suggested a two-day promotion at his restaurant on Skokie Boulevard so more Wood Oaks folks could take advantage. He donated back 20% of proceeds from those purchases.
"It was successful, they did a good job driving people there. It's the benefits of being what I call an involved community. They're involved so they want to help their children. Eating out is not difficult. I'm at a good price point and luckily I'm (at) a restaurant where people know my name," he said.
"I like doing it. I do it with other schools, it's a nice way to help the community and be involved with our neighbors without me having to figure out how to help and doing a lot of legwork," Krause said.
Harris would prefer the students do the legwork.
In general, the PTA tries to pick places that are easy for school families to reach, including students riding their bicycles.
"It's a win-win for everybody," Harris said. "I think it's been a difficult year for everyone and especially for kids, and having more opportunities to gather safely I think would be helpful."