Grad 2015 council co-presidents Vivian Huang (left) and Jennifer Chung get a head start on this weekend's bottle drive to raise money for graduation events. Students and parents are under some extra pressure this year with numerous fundraising setbacks including the cancellation of the cruise lottery

Crowe grads scrambling to raise funds

Several factors have limited the Class of 2015’s ability to generate more funds for graduation weekend

Every penny counts for this year’s J.L. Crowe graduating class, even an extra nickel or two for that empty soda bottle.

Fundraising issues have hit the 2015 grad students and parents hard with the loss of a key money-making event and a late start to planning due to last year’s labour dispute.

“(The bottle drive) carries a lot more weight this year because we were unable to do the cruise lottery fundraiser,” explained Ella Meyer, co-secretary of the student grad council.

“We are doing the drive, we are going to do more bake sales at school, and the parents are putting on a barbecue and car wash at Home Hardware for us. We are still short, but we want to make sure that we give the grads the best possible celebration that we can.”

Starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday, students and parents will be driving from Annable to Montrose collecting as many bottles as they can to help fund the Dry Grad, Memory Walk and prom for all 189 graduating students.

With the bottle drive and other smaller fundraisers, the council plans to make this year’s celebrations the best possible with limited resources, making up for the missing dollars.

“We want to have this year be as good, if not better, than previous years because we only get to do this once,” said Meyer, adding that students didn’t want the loss of the cruise lottery to slow them down.

The annual cruise lottery usually raises around $5,000 for the high school’s grad class, and Angie Seifrit, chairperson of the grad parent council, says the group has already been frugal in their planning in anticipation of less spending money.

“We are moving along with the festivities and everything will still be happening, it is just that the money is a bit tighter,” she said.

“There have been changes made already. We haven’t hired the same hypnotist we usually have and we haven’t hired the same DJ. We have made some cuts that way.”

Making the situation even more difficult for grads, the annual Valentine’s Day Dance didn’t meet fundraising expectations, which Seifrit attributes to a much more expensive liquor license and limited raffle options. The dance has also customarily been the event where cruise lottery winners are picked.

Seifrit says there were a number of factors that led to the cancellation of the cruise lottery this year, including a late start to the school year and issues between Cruise Lottery, the company that facilitates the fundraiser, and B.C. Gaming.

“This year, because of the teacher’s strike, we were late getting started,” she said.

“Then, when I contacted the company that does (the cruise lottery) with us, they were having difficulty with B.C. Gaming because they had changed the laws a little bit on what the wording has to look like on the lottery tickets. They were going back and forth, trying to satisfy the government’s conditions with these tickets. I had been in touch with them for at least three months, and we eventually had to give a cut off date. We couldn’t wait forever.”

A Cruise Lottery representative confirmed what Seifrit had to say and told the Times the company is still in talks with the provincial government on how to rectify the issue, leaving J.L Crowe grad fundraisers little choice but to start looking at different options to fill their accounts before the celebrations in June.

“We have traditionally gotten at least $5,000 from the cruise lottery, so the grads have really been hustling to raise more money,” said Seifrit.

“We have done two Purdy’s chocolate sales, bake sales and now the bottle drive, but we are still short at least $3,000 to $6,000.”

The bottle drive is an important part of the class fundraising and raised around $700 in the past. For those that want to donate their bottles, but don’t live in the areas where pick-up is happening, Meyer says anyone is welcome to drop their bottles off at the depot on Rossland Avenue to help them out.

“You can just leave the bottles in a bag at the end of your driveway and we will come get them – no hassle,” she said. “We will be going to Annable, Warfield, all of East and West Trail, Glenmerry, Shaver’s Bench, Miral Heights and all the way to Montrose. If you live somewhere where nobody is picking up bottles, you can just drop them off at the depot or across the street. We will have people there all day.”

The bottle pick-up runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and volunteers ask that bottles be placed out early in the morning before collection starts.

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