North Gwinnett Schools Foundation’s Annual Fundraiser Impacts Local Students in a Big Way
By: Angela Veugeler
Suwanee consistently tops national lists as one of the best places to live or raise a family (Money Magazine 2014, Kiplinger.com). With the many parks, Suwanee Town Center, Suwanee Creek Greenway, affordable living and proximity to Atlanta, it’s no wonder our city is so attractive to families (and constantly winning awards). It also has some of the best schools in the area, with every school in the district rated a 9 or 10 (out of 10) on GreatSchools.org. Not only are the schools filled with wonderful, talented teachers and administrators, but one of the reasons many of the schools are so great is the North Gwinnett Schools Foundation (NGSF). The foundation was established in 2001 by Cecil and Gay Gober as an “academic booster club” for the six schools in the North Gwinnet Cluster: Suwanee Elementary, Riverside Elementary, Level Creek Elementary, Roberts Elementary, North Gwinnett Middle School and North Gwinnett High School. The NGSF aims to foster student success by providing funds that enrich and extend educational opportunities through grants and scholarships.
Organized and run by board members made up of volunteer parents and community members, The Big T’Do is the one annual fundraiser for the NGSF, held each October. This year and the past several years, The Big T’Do will be hosted at The River Club in Suwanee on October 19th and includes a fun evening for parents, administrators and community members who are looking to support these schools in offering additional methods of learning not funded by the county or state. Over the years, this fundraiser has raised more than $700,000 for the schools in the North Gwinnett cluster and gives funds in the form of teachers’ grants.
These grants enable the schools to take education to the next level in preparing the students for the future. Jacqueline Huffman is a Technology Education teacher at North Gwinnett High School who has seen firsthand how the funds from the Big T’Do can have an impact on the students. Noticing a need for signage in the schools, she submitted and received a grant from the NGSF for a digital printer. The grant along with additional funding from the foundation and proceeds from the school store helped create North Ink. This student-run printing business produces staff shirts, inspirational posters, club announcements, congratulation yard signs for graduates and sports teams, and most recently “Fatheads.” They are continuously expanding their catalog. Huffman is grateful to the foundation for its support through the years. She says, “When they graduate, our students will have already gained ‘real world’ experience in running a school-based enterprise and in print production.” Principal Daniel Skelton from Level Creek Elementary School applauds the foundation for embracing the needs of all students. “North Gwinnett Schools Foundation/Big T’Do grants have helped provide LCES with tools for students with developmental delays. Our sensory room helps students regulate their sensory systems throughout the day so they are prepared to learn. Our community and the NGSF have made this happen!”
This year’s Big T’Do features an 80’s prom theme and includes a dinner, cash bar, live auction as well as a silent auction, with auction items donated by local businesses and community members. There is also an online auction at NGSF. givesmart.com where even those not attending can bid. Auction items include a wide range of items and services, including gift certificates to local restaurants, businesses and resorts, tickets to popular events, autographed sports memorabilia, gift baskets and more. Board member Tiffany Belflower, and past PTA president at Riverside Elementary, now serves the foundation as a fundraising chair. She helps set up and manage the online auction items, market the event, and works with local businesses to request donations. “I am so grateful for the wonderful schools we have in this area,” she says. “The funds raised through the Big T’Do really help give our students an edge. The list of grants funded is long and the impact is amazing.”
To purchase tickets, view the live auction or learn more, visit NorthGwinnettSchoolsFoundation.org