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Friends of Middlesex County Public Schools begin fund-raising drive

by Larry Chowning

The Friends of Middlesex County Public Schools is a 501c3 non-profit organization that has spearheaded the effort to build the Syd Thrift Sports Complex at Middlesex High School.

The Friends also strongly encouraged the Middlesex County Board of Supervisors to approve funding for the sports complex, and earlier this year the board approved about $3 million for the project. Construction is now under way at MHS.

The $3 million, however, will not cover the full cost of the project, and the Friends group is raising its own funds to help meet all the construction costs. Currently, a major fund-raising drive is under way to raise $600,000. Over $90,000 of that has already been raised through corporate and individual donations, said fund-raising chair Carolyn Boxley.

The Friends group has obtained a $600,000 line of credit to help finance the construction, and now the Friends must raise the $600,000 to cover that line of credit. 

Six Years Ago
It was in 2007 that the Friends of Middlesex County Public Schools raised over $104,000 for the Syd Thrift Sports Complex—$75,000 of which was used toward the purchase of land on Saluda Business Route 17 that was adjacent to the high school property. The purchase of this property was a major contribution to the entire project. The land backs up to the MHS football field and will provide room for an eastern entrance to the sports complex, a parking area, and a practice field.

One major issue MHS athletic fields have had in the past is the lack of convenient parking for events, and the purchase of the Route 17 Business property will ease that problem.
A portion of the $104,000 also was used to cover engineering and site plan expenses for the project.

Six Lanes
The Friends group currently is fine-tuning its fund-raising campaign. The chair of the fund-raising committee is Boxley (776-7166 or 824-4455). Also on the committee are Joel Vedelli and Hank Norton.

The fund-raising program has the following “six lanes”:

  • Lane One includes large and general donations. This will be headed by co-chairs Johnny Fleet (513-9364) and Ed Ruark (824-4044).

  • Lane Two will involve corporate and civic donations. This will be chaired by Charles Bristow (832-8553).

  • Lane Three will involve funds raised from naming opportunities, and is chaired by MHS principal Jeannie Duke (758-2132).

  • Lane Four will involve funds given from specific Middlesex High School alumni and classes. There have been 64 graduating classes at MHS. The first was in 1950 when Syringa and Saluda high schools were consolidated to create Middlesex High School. The co-chairs of this “lane” are Jeannie Bristow (694-7055) and Eloise Shaver (338-5805).

  • Lane Five will involve funds coming from grants. Velma Gray is the chair.

  • Lane Six involves annual fund-raising events such as concerts, golf tournaments, etc. There will be different individual chairs for each event.

Boxley said that the Friends group is asking each of the 64 graduating classes of MHS to accept the challenge of getting their graduating class a place on the “Patron Board,” which will be at the entrance to the new sports complex.

The patron giving levels are: Platinum $25,000-plus; Diamond $10,000-$24,999; Gold $5,000-$9,999; Silver $1,000-$4,999; and Bronze $500-$999. “If the sixty-four graduating classes each contribute $500, the amount donated would be $32,000,” said Boxley. “However, if all of the classes averaged $2,000, it would result in $128,000.”

She noted that two classes have already pledged $10,000 each.

“For the recent 94 graduates in the MHS Class of 2013, a donation of $5.32 each would reap a few cents over $500 and would qualify for the Bronze Level,” noted Boxley.

She said representatives from all graduating classes are going to be contacted to “rally the alumni” and aid the Friends of Middlesex County Public Schools in attaining its goal. Many local citizens are serving on the different committees and their tasks will be to contact people in the community.

“We feel very good about where we are, but we still have a ways to go and will need the continued support of the community,” said Boxley. “This project is long overdue. The students and the community deserve safe, regulation-size facilities. All donations are welcome as every dollar counts.”

A groundbreaking was held at the high school to kick-off construction on July 12.

posted 08.28.2013

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