Event proves to be successful followup to the annual Calling for Kids telethon

Sherwood Education Foundation board member Erica Lindsley first shared her vision of a spelling bee with the rest of the board many months ago.

Her idea was cute, and we all supported the possibility of bringing in more funds to award grants, but we were a little apprehensive as well.

SEF is a small group of dedicated volunteers that have gotten really good at running our Calling for Kids telethon. We have organized CFK for so long that it practically runs itself.

We are able to raise a respectable amount of donations and fund a respectable number of teacher grants. It's always heartbreaking, however, to turn innovative teacher ideas away because we can't fund them all. So we told Erica to run with her spelling bee idea.

Planning the Sip n Spell over the last year has been intense. It started with hours of discussion and lists and suggestions, which came together in a whirlwind few months of finalizing catering, booking venues, and advertising. We had to choose decorations, recruit spellers, and then came the daunting task of finding sponsors and filling tables. Would anyone want to come to our new event?

The answer is yes. Minutes after we put finishing touches on our centerpieces and queued up our slideshow presentation, guests began to arrive.

They chattered excitedly in groups around the silent auction tables. Wineglasses tinkled in the candlelight as guests hugged their favorite spellers and wished them luck. SEF members breathed a collective sigh of relief as the anxiety seeped away and we were able to mingle and chat with guests about the work we are so passionate about.

As we settled in to eat dinner, Patrick, our auctioneer from events, introduced our cause and asked guests to raise their paddles to pledge donations. The first couple of paddles were raised slowly, but they opened a flood of generosity, and soon there were paddles up all over the room. In the space of several minutes, we had raised over $11,000.

More wine flowed, and eventually the ten spellers took the stage.

We had left the eleventh chair open to auction off to the highest bidder to choose a speller of their choice. In a surprise twist, competition for that seat was so fierce that we auctioned of a last minute twelfth seat! The spelling bee had everyone on the edge of their seats wondering when the "Save the Speller" sticks would be needed as the words stumped the spellers as well as the audience.

The contest ended with a standing ovation for spelling bee winner Tammy Cammack from Laurel Ridge.

By the end of the night, the Sip n Spell brought in $20,000 that can go directly to fund teacher grants this spring. Thank you so much to Erica for pushing SEF to make this dream of yours a reality.

Thank you to the community for being so willing to support our foundation. Be sure to watch for the date of the Sip n Spell next year so you can get your seats before they're gone and check out #sipnspel to see fun pics from this year's event.

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