The organizers behind the completely new Families for Nooksack Elementary PTO (parent-teacher organization) had no idea what to expect when they created a fresh nonprofit ahead of the 2022-23 school year. The group has been met with nothing but support from the Nooksack Elementary community.
The school's former PTO dissolved pre-pandemic, which left no group operating for years. The new effort launched this summer and started to connect with families about the opportunities to help at the start of the school year.
The first opportunity was a complete success.
The PTO group decided to start small in raising funds, with the goal of supporting students at Nooksack Elementary with any proceeds from a donut sale. The Krispy Kreme fundraiser blew the group away, as they sold nearly three times the number of donut boxes as their goal (the massive sell required the group to drive to Seattle at 2:30 a.m. to pick up the donuts, and thanks to a donation from Stremler Gravel, with a trailer large enough to haul the boxes back for delivery), making over $10,000 for the PTO to use for students.
"The fundraising piece was very overwhelming, realizing the community had donated this amount of money," says Emily VanMiddendorp, PTO leader. "It was a lot. It was a huge amount of responsibility to make sure we could deliver the product we promised. Now we can take a breath and look forward and that is the exciting part, looking at what we were able to do together as a community for this elementary school and plan fun activities the students will benefit from."
Katie Brown, Nooksack Elementary principal, says both the effort of the PTO members and the community support was incredible to see after a couple of years of no PTO activity. "It's awesome to see our community come together, no matter the cause," she says. "This helped our students feel happy and proud of their accomplishment."
VanMiddendorp says the PTO's main goal is to financially support field trips and the first fundraiser will allow teachers to take students on trips outside the classroom they wouldn't have previously been able to do. Along with field trips, the group has other plans, such as a family movie night on Friday, Oct. 21.
The PTO had students vote on four different movies, ultimately allowing the students to select The Mitchells vs. the Machines. Every student will receive a ticket for a free bag of popcorn at the movie night and families are invited to bring chairs and blankets to make the event as comfortable as possible.
For students not able to attend the movie night, VanMiddendorp says they hope to also bring in interesting assemblies to the school, ensuring every student can enjoy the benefits of the fundraiser effort.
"Being that we are so new, we need to feel out what our school likes," she says. "We are giving this movie night a go and if it is popular, we will do it again. If not, we will figure something out the students might benefit from."
With such a strong start, the PTO is moving forward quickly. Parent support has been high and this year a program is in place where families volunteer to donate a gift basket to staff every half day of school. All staff names go into a drawing to select the recipient, something VanMiddendorp says has been appreciated by staff and a fun way for families to say thank you.
For those interested in helping with the Families for Nooksack Elementary PTO, volunteer information is available at the school.