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Elementary PTO to host annual fundraiser

January 31, 2018
Jessica Salmond - News Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The Fort Myers Beach Elementary Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) is going to bring a little Vegas fun to Fort Myers Beach.

The PTO has set its annual fundraiser for Saturday, Feb. 24.

This year's theme, High Rollin' on the Beach, will pit attendees against their own luck: guests can take a chance on poker, virtual horse races, roulette, black jack and many other Vegas-style games.

Article Photos

PTO Co-Presidents Kristen Love and Shannon Orlandini and Co-Treasurer Chantal Blais accept an annual $5,000 donation from Kiwanis President Eric Tibbs — with a little help from Noah Love. The Fort Myers Beach Kiwanis Club is the PTO's first “Ace” sponsor for the fundraiser.

The fundraiser will be held from 6 to 10 the Woman's Club, 175 Sterling Ave.

Tickets are $50 each. Limited VIP tables are available at $600, which include seating for 8, free champagne, dedicated cocktail waitress and valet parking.

The event will offer musical entertainment, silent and live auctions as well as raffle items to include gift certificates to many local restaurants and hotels, a high-end dinner cruise, Key West Express tickets, fishing trips and water sports, pampering packages, SeaWorld, Aquatica, and Disney tickets, along with many other baskets generously donated by local businesses. Raffle tickets are obtained with gaming winnings.

Silent auction items and corporate sponsorship opportunities are still available. Corporate sponsors will receive VIP access plus event advertising and speaking opportunities. For more information on sponsorship or to purchase tickets, go to or contact Kristen Love at 719-761-6237 or email

As the only PTO fundraiser dedicated solely to the Fort Myers Beach Elementary, the event's goal is to raise enough to sustain and grow the enrichment, technology and educational needs of the beach children.

The PTO dedicates its time to making sure "beach kids" get the same kind of enrichment and opportunities that they might be able to get off-island.

Beach Elementary does not receive funding to provide after-school clubs. So instead, the PTO funds the clubs themselves. Some PTO members volunteer their time after school to run the clubs - Bret Randall runs the ever-popular Lego Club. PTO Co-President Shannon Orlandini said Randall's club was so popular he's added more days to make sure as many students as possible can participate. Drama Club puts on a play every year. Swim Club is coordinated with Bay Oaks staff, and the PTO pays for staff time. Some teachers also help out at the after-school programs.

"The kids don't have really many opportunities because they don't have the afterschool programs that many other schools have," Orlandini said. "We wanted our kids to have the same enrichment opportunities."?Participation in the after-school clubs is free to the students. Although it's not well-known, 86 percent of the students come from families that are economically disadvantaged. Besides providing enrichment, the clubs help to provide a safe place for students of working parents to stay after school.

After clubs are over, many students go to Bay Oaks or Beach Baptist for their afterschool programs, Orlandini said. The PTO members help make sure the students reach those destinations safely.

This year Orlandini said two new clubs have been added: language arts club and guitar lessons. Since the PTO is hiring outside instructors for these two, there is a small fee to participate. But, it helps to minimize travel for families.

"Not all parents can drive their kids off island to get to other programs," she said.

The majority of the PTO's expenses go to providing for these clubs, but that's not all the organization does. They help write grants for teachers to get classroom equipment; they help out with school field trips; and they get sponsors to donate to school needs. At the end of the year, the PTO helps to put on the annual student carnival.?The wood dolphin sculpture that used to sit outside the school had to be removed, so the PTO raised the funds to replace it with a new one.

One week a year, the PTO turns Teacher Appreciation Day into a week-long event to highlight their gratitude for the work of the beach's teachers.

During that week, PTO families "sponsor" breakfasts and lunches for the teachers; other families will bring in goodies for them.

"We try to do a lot for our teachers so they don't have to do so much on their own," Orlandini said.

Kristen Love, PTO Co-President, said school has a "firm desire" to not make the students fundraise for themselves. So the PTO, made up of parents and staff from the beach school, have taken on that responsibility. Since the school district bases a school's budget on a per-pupil basis, Fort Myers Beach often has a small budget.

"With 110 kids, we don't get a lot of money," Love said. "The PTO supplements everything. Extra curriculum, classroom supplies, sometimes even office supplies, and all of the after-school clubs."

Sometimes the small size is an advantage, however. With both classroom and after-school clubs, students get more personalized and one-on-one educational time, Love said.

Principal Jeff Dobbins said the ways that the PTO supports the school is a "list that goes on and on." As a long-time employee of the district, Dobbins said the fact that the after-school clubs are funded by the PTO at the beach school is unique.

"The money that they generate goes directly to the kids," he said. "They do so much to support our small school budget. They're invaluable to us."



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