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Festival raises $11,000 to benefit four Aberdeen elementary schools


There were no big names at this Aberdeen fund-raiser, just plenty of folks with big hearts and a desire to make learning for children a more pleasant experience.

The Funfest festival, sponsored by the Aid Association for Lutherans, brought in $11,000 for Aberdeen's four elementary school libraries.

The AAL, a nonprofit organization, presented a ceremonial "check" last Monday to representatives of the schools -- Bakerfield, Hillsdale, Hall's Cross Roads and Roye-Williams elementaries -- to be divided equally among them.

"It was more than I thought we'd make," said Bonnie S. Stevens, president of local branch No. 7338 of the AAL and chairwoman of the festival.

The first Funfest, held at Festival Park in Aberdeen in mid-October, was an outgrowth of smaller fund-raising efforts by the AAL, which in the past has raised money for needy families by selling cookbooks or raffling quilts.

"I thought, why not do it up big," Mrs. Stevens said.

The gray, foggy weather on the big day didn't look promising, but the community turned out in force to buy crafts, eat pit beef sandwiches and pizza, listen to school choral groups and take chances on items donated by area businesses.

It was all for a good cause -- the purchase of books and other educational materials for elementary school libraries.

The AAL chose school libraries because "our group thinks literacy is important, and the festival was one way we could help," Mrs. Stevens said.

Her husband, the Rev. Robert Stevens, who is pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Aberdeen and vice president of the local AAL, said that the group picked the libraries because "that is the first area to be cut from the [school] budget" and the schools need money to buy essential library supplies.

The four schools' wish lists range from multicultural storybooks to children's atlases.

"What an incredible venture that was," said Patricia L. Skebeck, principal of Hall's Cross Roads Elementary, of the festival.

She hopes to add books to her school's library on different holiday customs and sets of classics.

Joseph Stevens, principal of Bakerfield Elementary, said he is still assessing what teachers want at his school but that the money will probably go for extra books for the library and computer software.

AAL members will take a slight breather before they start planning in January for 1994's festival.

The same four schools will be the beneficiaries of AAL's fund-raising efforts.

"Each year we'll pick a different department of the school," said Mrs. Stevens. "Next year, it'll be either art, music or gym."

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