It was an evening of glitz and glamour, with women wearing feathers, sequins and fringe, and men in suspenders and fedoras. The 12-piece band played selections from the roaring ’20s as guests mingled and sipped champagne.
Oct. 14 marked the annual Shorewood Holy Family School Fall Gala with a “Great Gatsby” theme. Each year, the gala raises money to use toward the students at the school. This year, the goal was to raise enough funds to buy one-to-one technology for children in kindergarten through fifth grades, which rounds out to be about 50 devices.
“These school events are always amazing, I mean, who hires a 12-piece band? I love it,” Theresa Eggman said of the gala. “We love to support the school and we need more technology. I love to see the money from this event going toward technology.”
Eggman and her husband, Jason, talked further on how libraries have changed because of technology and kids not using dictionaries or encyclopedias anymore as information can be found online, so children need to learn how to use it.
Event coordinators Melinda Struck and Shanele Kirksey set a goal of $15,000 to pay for the devices. Although heavy storms rolled in throughout the night, more than 500 people came to the event, and Kirksey said she had never witnessed so many attendees dressed up with the theme.
“This is a terrific turnout and kept getting more crowded as the night went on. Everyone got in the spirit of dressing up, which doesn’t always happen,” Holy Family School Principal Anthony Simone said. “It’s important to build community and introduce new families. Plus, all of the money we raise tonight benefits the school.”
After the event, Kirksey said she did not have final fundraising numbers, but she said it broke all school records for this event.
“The revenue numbers that were brought in are the largest seen for this event since the fundraiser’s inception. If you want to go big, go Gatsby,” Kirksey said. She said an unofficial number would be about $10,000 over from the previous year, which was a 25 percent net growth.
Kirksey said this year, she and Struck tried to advertise more within the Holy Family Catholic Church parish as well as the religious education classes in order to create one group under the Holy Family umbrella instead of the school event standing on its own.
“We have such great things going on in the school, we need to get everybody to notice,” Kirksey said.
Upon entering the room, guests could hear the musical sounds of the 12-piece band Shout Section. Food selections included a mashed potato “martini” bar, prohibition pasta bar, sandwich bar with fresh carved meats and cupcake bar. Drinks such as a Great Gatsby, French 75, Gin Rickey or Jack and Coke were served in the speakeasy.
The room was lined with silent auction items, including exclusive items handmade by each grade at the school. Kirksey said those items always bring in the most money. The eighth-grade class painted a flag on wood panels and wrote down what the flag and their country meant to them.
The Champagne toast took place at 8 p.m. and the Very Rev. Father Dennis Paul stood up to speak to the guests.
“We are here to support Catholic education. We are here to support Holy Family Catholic School,” Paul said. He asked a blessing among the people as he introduced a video that showed the lives of the children who attend the school.
After, Brian Noonan of WGN Radio 720 spoke as the special guest and opened up the online donation and bidding process. Holy Family School used an online fundraising app called Gesture where all of the bidding on silent auction items, as well as one-time donations, could be done via mobile phone. Noonan first spoke on why each of the students needed this one-to-one technology.
“The real reason we need to get those iPads in your kids’ hands is because books are really heavy,” Noonan said. He went on to ask parents if they had ever held their child’s backpack and questioned whether they need a chiropractor and compared their posture to that of a cross between Quasimodo and a jumbo shrimp.
Noonan stood up and opened the online bidding and as the bids came in online, a projection screen allowed the crowd to see who bid and watch the total climb. Within minutes, the total went from zero to $3,000 and kept climbing as Noonan got the crowd excited for the event.
Guests enjoyed more musical selections as well as a late-night snack of pizza and popcorn before the evening came to a close at 11:30 p.m.