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Sweets for Success: Sweet relief for students who need help
Got a sweet tooth? AmeriCorps has the cure.
The annual Sweets for Success raises money for scholarships that help students participate in music, arts and sports.
With the down economy, the need has doubled since in the last decade. Back in the 1998-99 school year, the district had 26.2 percent of students on free or reduced lunch. Last year, the number was 46.7 percent, and this year, the school district is seeing an even higher number — more than 50 percent, spokeswoman Deb Stenberg said.
For students' families who need help just making ends meet, paying for extracurricular activities is usually out of the question. Even for those on free and reduced lunch, athletic fees range from $30 all the way up to $100 per sport. There are also fees for renting musical equipment or taking art classes.
This is where the AmeriCorps comes in.
"It's all donations," AmeriCorps supervisor Danielle Bonner said. "There's no budget. We're taking donations year round." Cash donations go directly to the Multi-Service Center, which puts the money into the AmeriCorps' fund.
Recently, the group gave out its 1,011th award.
To be eligible for the award, students must secure two recommendations and write an essay. They also must keep their grades up. Students answer questions on how they will balance their activity with their academics and goals for the year.
One middle school student said a goal was to "get nothing lower than a C- because I want to stay in basketball and because I don't want a failing grade." Another high school student said "by participating in a sport, you get your body to stay active and you get blood flow into your brain. Also colleges look at your school involvement."
The event raised $8,084 during its first year in 2004. Last year, the event raised $24,771.91. That same year, AmeriCorps gave out $18,254, and in just the first semester this year, the group has awarded more than $18,000.
Sweets for Success is free to the public. Anyone can attend. At the event, there are numerous desserts available for $1. The desserts are donated from local stores and restaurants including Red Robin, Outback Steakhouse and Safeway.
In addition to desserts, there are auction baskets that contain hundreds of donated items. There will be numerous silent auctions throughout the night as well as live auctions. There are about 40 baskets this year. Baskets usually go for around $150, but there are several that can go for as low as $20.
The live auction will have some bigger ticket items, including four tickets to Disneyland. Bonner said they are hoping to get Alaska Airlines involved by donating some flights to Disneyland.
Also during the event, there will be testimonials about the program from students and teachers as well as performances including the Kilo Middle School Orchestra and band, the Totem Middle School band, and dancing and singing acts.
If you go
The sixth annual Sweets for Success Dessert Benefit and Auction will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. April 30 at Todd Beamer High School, 35999 16th Ave. S. To RSVP, call (253) 945-2269 or e-mail SweetsforSuccess@gmail.com.