Even in a pandemic, life continues to move forward, and Bixby Elementary School parents are doing their best to raise money for school projects and events, considering they aren't able to host events themselves.

"It's hard to come up with ways to raise funding when all of the usual ways to raise money aren't possible right now," Hiro Zeoli, fifth grade committee chair for Bixby Elementary's Parent Teacher Association, said. "But our kids have to figure out how to be good students at home, so we figure out how to get this job done too."

Money raised by the PTA goes toward a number of school events, like field trips, after-school assemblies and field days. Usual fundraisers include bake sales, car washes and raffles — all ideas that have had to be scrapped in a pandemic.

"It's back to the drawing board," Zeoli said. "But we figured a blank slate can be fun to work with too."

Holiday Fundraising

While there are no events currently scheduled at the elementary school, Zeoli said that they want to continue raising what they can in the event that students are able to head back to campus this school year. If not, then at least they will have raised some money for the 2021-22 school year.

"We are trying to be creative this year and do something different than the usual fundraisers so that we can do some fun things at the end of the year if we can go back to school," she said. "Even though there's COVID, we still can't entirely stop what we're doing. We have to keep working."

Zeoli said that she, and other members of the PTA, started researching what other schools were doing to raise money. They found an organization based in Minneapolis — called Gift-It-Forward — that makes holiday wreaths, centerpieces and Christmas tree toppers solely for school fundraisers across the country.

People can order a wreathe at giftitforward.com using the fundraising code "BIXBYECA001," and $8 from every order will be donated to Bixby Elementary. 

"The best part is that you don't have to be in person to purchase an item, and we can still raise some money," Zeoli said. 

She added that her PTA team plans on making masks, lawn signs and charity bracelets for more gift options as the holidays approach, and hopes that people will consider their neighborhood schools during what is usually a peak fund-raising season.

"It's harder to get the word out this year because everyone is home and isolated," she said. "This time of year, there's usually dances or homecomings or sports — plenty of opportunity to get people together.

"Maybe reach out to your child's school and see if there are any socially distant fundraisers happening. You'll help out moms like me who are doing their best to volunteer and figure out what they're doing at the same time."

Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at sstutzman@gazettes.com.

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