Shrewsbury Middle School PTO Streamlines In Tough Times

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The Shrewsbury Middle School Parent Teacher Organization is looking at a different approach to fundraising.
The Shrewsbury Middle School Parent Teacher Organization is looking at a different approach to fundraising. Photo Credit: Shrewsbury School Department

SHREWSBURY, Mass. — The Shrewsbury Middle School Parent Teacher Organization wants to raise $60,000 this school year, but there's concern from members they'll fall short of that goal.

"(The) biggest worry is we won't be able to raise the $60,000," said Kathleen Keohane, who, with Christa Duprey, helps to oversee the organization. "Because of the economy, people don't have as much disposable income to be donating. I'm worried about not being able to raise that money this year."

Those worries have meant jettisoning some traditional fundraisers in favor of a streamlined approach that appeals directly to parents and community members.

The annual fall pie sale has been eliminated, in part, because of the small profit margin. "Out of a $14 pie, we only get forty percent of that," Duprey said.

The group soon will be starting a direct donation campaign, using services such as PayPal, to appeal directly to donors.

The organization began using PayPal in 2011 and raised $5,500. While PayPal charges a fee for its services, Keohane and Duprey said it's worth it because its easier for donors. "People can click on a link, get out their credit card, and they're done," Keohane said.

It's a better alternative than spending $900 on stamps, plus other expenses associated with direct mailing.

Some traditional fundraisers will remain, including the group's biggest fundraiser: A magazine drive that will take place Nov. 7-19, and which last year brought in $35,000. An electronics and clothing recycling event will take place Oct. 20, and other dances, talent shows, and socials will continue.

Duprey and Keohane said their efforts don't conflict with the school district's planned capital campaign, which primarily focuses on raising money from private organizations.

The group supports Shrewsbury's two middle schools which, combined, have almost 2,000 students. Money the organization raises helps offset the costs of field trips, motivational speakers, online and print educational publications and more.

"The students deserve this, I would hate to see these programs go," Keohane said.

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