Catholic Herald staff
On Saturday, Nov. 5, St. Joseph Catholic School, Rice Lake will host its 10th annual Black and Gold Gala.
Over the past nine years, the elegant evening event has been a great success story for both the school and the parents who plan it.
With a capacity crowd of more than 250 people, corporate sponsorships and involvement from parishioners and non-Catholics alike, the gala is a valued tradition for the school and the Rice Lake community.
Laurie Zadra, whose fifth-grader attends St. Joseph, has been involved with the planning process for seven years.
The gala has raised more than $100,000 in the last couple of years, an impressive feat in a town with fewer than 9,000 people, Zadra said. This fundraising allows the school to meet the financial demands of maintaining its infrastructure, but it also keeps St. Joseph technologically current.
“We had Smart Boards before the school district here,” she said.
The impetus for starting the gala, according to Zadra, “was kind of twofold — trying to get the community acknowledging the school, being more involved, and also to make it a good social event.”
Each year, the committee selects one or more focus items — new chairs, Chromebooks, Smart Boards, etc. — and raises money for that purpose. Last year, in recognition of the school’s 125th anniversary, the committee chose 125 smaller focus items.
In addition to direct fundraising benefits, the gala has also expanded the school’s visibility in the community, Zadra added.
“I think the community is fairly involved,” she said.
Boosting the school’s presence has in turn led to more partnerships with local businesses.
“Last year was our biggest year for community business sponsorship,” Zadra said. “We had $15,000 in just corporate sponsors last year, before we even opened the doors.”
Businesses that donate $500 receive two tickets; for $1,000, they receive four tickets, and a table of eight is a $1,500 donation.
Each year, the festivities begin after Mass on Saturday.
A parishioner donates beer and wine, which is available for purchase; the gala includes games of chance to kick off the evening. There’s a silent auction and a live auction, class baskets (each student is asked to donate $25 to a themed class basket) and more.
Another parishioner, a talented decorator, spends most of a day beautifying the school’s gym, and even the bathrooms. The feast is an elegant heavy hors d’oeuvres buffet, which costs the school $25 per person, and the evening ends with live music by Second Time Around from 9 p.m. until midnight.
Individual tickets are $40; this year, the school is offering an anniversary package including two tickets, $25 in drink tickets and two chances to win $500 for $125. For information, call the school at 715-234-2032.