Ocean City Education Foundation to Host 4th Annual Gala

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Education Council member Cecilia Gallelli-Keyes holds tickets to the OCEF fundraising event on October 29. (Photo courtesy of OCEF)

By MADDY VITALE

The Ocean City Education Foundation (OCEF) is a community coming together to help students and teachers provide additional support that may not be within the school budget.

From mini-grants to the newest and perhaps most vital effort – supporting mental health programs within the school district – OCEF has one goal in mind: to help students and educators.

“Over the past few years, our main focus has been on mental health wellness initiatives, in addition to the mini-grants for teachers,” OCEF President Jennifer Shirk said Wednesday.

OCEF will host the 4th Annual Red and White Soiree at Josie Kelly’s Public House in Somers Point on Friday, October 29 at 7 p.m. year in the form of mini-grants, Shirk noted.

The last two fundraisers were at Josie Kelly’s home and were successful, Shirk said.

“There will be a DJ, fantastic food, auction baskets and red and white drink specials all night long,” she said. “We will also be raffling a chance to win $ 2,000. “

Tickets can only be purchased for $ 35 online on the OCEF website at OCNJEF.com.

Members of the Ocean City New Jersey Education Foundation donate $ 10,000 to the middle school wellness center in January 2020.

In 2020, OCEF contributed to the funding of the Intermediate School Wellness Center.

Now the group is looking to fund outdoor wellness centers at all three schools.

“Primary school will most likely be the first in the order of projects to be completed,” Shirk said. “We hope this will be a great place for storytelling hours, outdoor learning, or just a nice place to take a structured break from the mental health of these students.”

OCEF Treasurer Aimee Schultz added: “Reports in the US confirm that mental health continues to deteriorate, which is why outdoor wellness spaces are going to be a high priority for us. this school year. “

OCEF is able to provide money to the school district through fundraisers, including the two social events held in the fall and spring.

But amid the COVID-19 pandemic last year, events did not take place.

Instead, OCEF raised funds through virtual events and helped deliver needed items during the pandemic.

“We have purchased Red Raider mask cords for all students and teachers in the school district to make things a bit easier by keeping the masks clean and also preventing the students from losing their masks,” Shirk said.

OCEF members and State Assembly Member Antwan McClellan at the 2019 social evening.

With the pandemic restrictions easing and more people getting vaccinated, Shirk said OCEF is in a position to host the 4th annual gala.

“We are aggressive with our goals, but these are the ones we are very proud of and the most passionate about, which is why we hope the community will join in our latest fundraising efforts,” explained Shirk.

Heather James, secretary of OCEF, said the nonprofit is grateful to the business community who give each year.

“We are very grateful to all of our sponsors and we think it is important that they are recognized for their support and donations,” said James.

And with a new school year underway, additions to OCEF are being made to expand the organization and help more students and educators.

Anyone interested in becoming a member of OCEF can do so with a donation of only $ 20.

This donation allows a member to access VIP emails and serve on committees.

In addition, members’ students will automatically be eligible for the organization’s community scholarship.

“We hope this will also raise funds, so that we can offer more graduate scholarships,” Shirk said. “Teachers who become members with a donation of $ 10 will be eligible for the mini-grants for teachers that we will be awarding in the spring. “

Heather James, left, and Jennifer Shirk, members of the Ocean City Education Foundation, at a Chamber of Commerce open house in 2019.

Another new addition is the Activity Access Fund, which is a fund or grant that OCEF can give to a student who is unable to participate in a sport or other extracurricular activity due to its cost.

“I was fortunate that my daughter ran cross country when she was in high school,” Shirk noted. “All I had to do was make sure she had a good pair of running shoes.”

She continued, “But I know there are other sports that require equipment or even protective gear, which can get really expensive.”

OCEF members want all students who want to participate in school activities to be able to do so regardless of the cost, she added.

A student or caregiver can apply for the fund directly. A teacher or guidance counselor can also apply on behalf of the student.

Membership registration and application for activity access funds are available on the Ocean City Education Foundation website: OCNJEF.com

Some OCNJEF fellows pose for a photo in Spring 2019 at Ocean City Elementary School.

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