Foundation starts massive drive to solicit donations

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 28, 2001

Members and friends of the Albert Lea Education Foundation are busy raising money, but this time for a new cause.

Friday, December 28, 2001

Members and friends of the Albert Lea Education Foundation are busy raising money, but this time for a new cause. They are asking for contributions to offset the budget cuts made by the Albert Lea School Board in response to the failed referendum.

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The hope of foundation board members and the others involved in the campaign is to raise enough money to cover all of the programs that were cut back or eliminated by the district.

In order to do this, the foundation is asking residents of the Albert Lea School District to commit to donating at least 25 percent of the amount of the property tax reduction they see this coming year.

Those involved in the new fund-raising effort, which was announced by Steve Schwartz at the beginning of the board meeting on Dec. 17, say they are disappointed that they have to be out and about raising money because of the budget cuts. But they want to do something to keep as many programs and activities alive for now, anticipating that there will be another referendum on school funding before the end of 2002.

&uot;We’re trying to fill an immediate need, to delay the cuts and preserve the programs for one more year,&uot; said Al Arends, a foundation board member.

All of the money raised through this fund-raising drive will be given to the school district, Arends said. All donations to the foundation are also tax deductible, since it is designated as a 501(c)3 organization, or a non-profit group set up for educational purposes.

Although the aim is to collect the funds so that they can be supplied to the district without any strings attached, donors can designate that the funds be spent only on specific programs or activities.

&uot;The donor’s wishes will be respected,&uot; said Arends.

Undesignated donations will be placed in the district’s general fund, while any donations designated for specific purposes will go towards whatever purpose was indicated, said Mark Stotts, District Finance Director. And while the district has accepted donations of money or equipment in the past, this new contribution will be something out of the ordinary.

&uot;It’s different. We don’t have this situation all that often. In the last seven years here I don’t recall anyone coming in and saying they wanted to make a donation to the general fund,&uot; said Stotts.

Using the mailing list compiled by the Kids II Committee from November’s referendum, 5,000 flyers were sent out in a bulk mailing this week. A thousand more flyers may be going out in the next chamber of commerce correspondence, according to Allen Pelvit, Chamber director.

&uot;We want to do everything we can to support this effort,&uot; he said.

In addition to the direct mail campaign, Arends and Schwartz say they will be making the rounds at service club meetings, to help spread the word. Plans are also being made to contact a number of successful alumni of the Albert Lea School District, both from inside and outside of the area.