By CHERIL VERNON
When most people win money — especially a large amount like $10,000 — they start figuring out how they are going to spend it.
But when Texas Farm Bureau Insurance agent Toni Rogers won $10,000 during the Palestine High School Project Graduation’s annual “Draw Down” dinner on May 10, Rogers chose to donate it back to Project Graduation.
“Graduation night is a night of celebration, charged with excitement and high emotion. The purpose of Project Graduation is to provide a safe, drug- and alcohol-free environment for the graduating class to commemorate the achievement of their education with their classmates. The monies raised at the dinner were to fund the many prizes and awards that the students will receive at the end of the night when they attend Project Graduation. Each child will leave with a cash prize,” Rogers told the Herald-Press. “If these extra dollars give one student an extra incentive to attend we have one less child to worry about making an impulsive decision that would stain the celebration for their fellow classmates, friends, and family, forever.”
For $100, ticket holders who attended the “Draw Down” dinner at the Palestine Senior Activity Center received a meal for two provided by Shep’s BBQ, live music provided by Elektratones and a chance to win $10,000. Tickets were “drawn down” from the first to last with the last ticket holder winning (Rogers).
“I had a feeling I would win because it had been one of those weeks where everything had been ‘just right,’” said Rogers, who serves as a parent volunteer for Project Graduation along with other participating parents. “My son, Jack, is a member of the PHS Class of 2013. I have spent years watching most of these children grow up, some of them since preschool. Our daughters, Rebecca, and Alice, my husband, Chris and I are PHS alumni and went to school with many of their siblings and parents. I have a vested interest. In the spirit of a fundraiser, for the sake of our children, our future generation and tomorrow’s leaders, it is money well spent!”
With the $10,000 donation back to the Project Graduation program, the organization is only $7,000 away from reaching its goal.
“Project Graduation appears to have lost some of its luster. Many parents feel it has become an ‘over the top’ celebration. I suspect the parents who have lost their children on graduation night, or any night for that matter, would strongly disagree,” Rogers said. “One accident avoided is well worth the money I returned to PHS Project Graduation 2013.”
Project Graduation is a drug-free and alcohol-free parent-sponsored party provided for the senior class the night of graduation from 10 p.m. Friday, June 7 to 5 a.m. Saturday, June 8 at the Palestine YMCA. All graduates will receive a goodie bag, t-shirt, a DVD of the event, and other gifts.
Goal of Project Graduation 2013 is to raise $150 in honor of each of the 214 seniors in the Class of 2013 in order to provide gifts, prizes and scholarships for every senior attending Project Graduation.
Contributions can include donating prizes, sponsoring one of the game rentals, donating a scholarship or making a cash donation. All are tax-deductible. Contributions can be made payable to PHS Project Graduation.
Project Graduation also is selling Coke™ products for $22 per case (twenty-four 20 oz. bottles) and will host the PHS Powderpuff football game at 4 p.m. May 31 at PHS.
For information about Project Graduation, call Sandy Webb at 903-729-6370 or Palestine High School at 903-731-8005.