Friday, February 19, 2016

Parent teacher groups join forces for auction event at Clock Tower

(Originally published in the 2/19/16 edition)

   For the third year in a row, the Parent Teacher Groups of Joe Henderson and Robert Semple Elementary schools will be joining forces for a Mardi Gras-themed live and silent auction for adults only. 
   According to Crystal Luna-Yarnell, the event’s co-chair and a parent of a third grader at Joe Henderson, the idea came about when the two schools’ parent-teacher organizations started collaborating and talking about fundraising ideas. 
   “One of the schools is not always able to bring in as much capital as some of the other schools are,” she said. “We just thought it might be a really fun thing to do if we just sort of collaborated together and split the proceeds.”
   In 2014, the groups put on their first Mardi Gras-themed auction event. Although the celebration of Carnival is typically observed in February, the event will actually be held in March. Luna-Yarnell said she was not sure why the Mardi Gras theme was chosen but suggested it would be an interesting event for the end of winter to bring adults together. 
   “It is our only adult only event,” she said. “A lot of the events we do, we look at how we can involve the kids. This gives the parents an opportunity to get to know each other.” 
   The committee begins planning and obtaining items for the auction in July. Among the more than 100 goodies to be bid on include tickets for The Golden State Warriors’ March 26 game against the Philadelphia 76ers, four tickets to San Francisco Giants games, a seven-night stay in Puerto Vallarta in August, a Disneyland package with a $1,000 Visa gift card, tickets to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Oakland Symphony, a Lake Tahoe getaway, a Lagunitas Brewery basket and tickets to see Adele perform in one of her sold-out shows at San Jose’s SAP Center in July. 
   Luna-Yarnell said the process of obtaining items takes a lot of work.
   “It just takes a lot of asking,” she said. “It definitely takes a village, and we’re just reaching out and using all the resources that we have.” 
   Nonetheless, Luna-Yarnell says she is thrilled at the response the groups have gotten.
   “This year, I don’t think we’ve really had to ask as much as in the past,” she said. “People were really looking forward to the auction, and some people solicited us and said ‘We would like to donate.’”
   In addition to the auctions, there will be Cajun-inspired chicken, salad and side dishes catered by Gracie’s Family BBQ in Vallejo, a full bar, music by DJ Kevin and games. One of the games, “Heads or Tails,” will feature DJ Kevin tossing a coin in the air. Those who choose “Heads” will put their hands on their heads, and those who choose “Tails” will put their hands behind their backs. Participants whose poses correspond with the coin’s outcome will remain in the game, and the process will continue until one person is left standing. The winner will receive a $350 plasma-screen TV. 
   Luna-Yarnell said the proceeds will be split between the two schools, and much of the money will go toward student enrichment.
   “At Joe Henderson, we are very focused on art education and reading,” she said. “We’re also making sure our teachers have the extra money they may not get from the school district.” 

   The event will take place from 5:30 to 11:30 p.m., Saturday, March 5 at The Clock Tower, located at 1189 Washington St. Tickets can be purchased at The event is for adults only, but attendees do not have to be parents of Joe Henderson or Robert Semple students. For more information, visit

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