Odyssey School supporters flock to Touch A Truck fundraiser
By REBECCA LEFTWICH
A few years ago, Jennifer Petrino’s relative in Connecticut told her about a successful fundraiser held for her daughter’s school.
The relative described an event in which children were allowed to sit or climb in or on fire trucks, police cars and many other vehicles that fascinate most youngsters but which normally are off-limits. For a small fee, little ones lived out their dream of getting up close and personal with those vehicles, netting a healthy fee for the school in the process.
“As a public charter school, we receive significantly less funding than a traditional district school gets,” Petrino said. “Fundraisers like this allow the PTO to help fill some of the gap.”
Odyssey is open to all Coweta County public school students through a lottery placement system, but it is funded differently than regular public schools. As such, fundraisers and parent involvement become crucial components in providing necessary materials and supplies for Odyssey students.
“The money raised by the PTO through events like Touch A Truck helps to fund family fun events, in-school field trips and programs, and much-needed items for the school,” Petrino said. “In the past, the PTO has been able to purchase class sets of digital microscopes, cafeteria tables, library software, a sound system, maps and globes, and more.”
In fact, Odyssey’s PTO has been so active it recently was honored by National PTO Magazine with a special award for its annual International Night festivities.
“Two things that set Odyssey apart from other schools is the sense of community and the level of parental involvement we have,” Petrino said.
Parents began planning Touch A Truck back in February, putting out feelers to potential exhibitors, getting the word out on Facebook and distributing flyers at local preschools and daycare centers. And it worked; an estimated 500 visitors attended the event throughout the day. Help from Ashley Parks Kristy Pruitt and Lee Batups didn’t hurt, and Odyssey’s PTO worked like a well-oiled machine to pull off the fundraiser, according to Petrino.
“It truly was a team effort,” she said “Our PTO Board works together exceedingly well and everyone took on a task and handled it beautifully. Daniel Abernathy, our president, arranged the military, police cars, fire trucks and helicopter. I arranged most of the other vehicles, with help from our Teacher Representative, Josh Casey, who also arranged spirit day donations from Yogli Mogli and Firehouse Subs. Our Vice President, Nsa Austin, handled concessions and distributing fliers. Our treasurer, Beth Prosser, did a lot of running around picking up banners, cases of water, getting money for change. Even though we had a few hiccups, the day went exceedingly well thanks to our teamwork.”
Meanwhile, youngsters were living out their dreams with access to police, military and fire vehicles, bucket trucks, race cars, dump trucks and excavators, car carriers, classic cars, motorcycles, dune buggies and pony rides.
“The kids were just thrilled to see all of the vehicles up close,” Petrino said. “You could hear all the horns honking as the kids climbed inside and explored the cars and trucks. They were putting on the construction hats and trying on the big giant work gloves. One thing several kids really got a kick out of was the dump truck with the child safety seat on the passenger side – the dump truck driver brought his daughter along and she had to ride in her car seat.
“The landing of the Life Flight helicopter was a highlight, of course,” she added “They weren’t able to stay long because they had to go on a call, but lots of kids got to see inside it before it took off again. We also had pony rides which is always fun. The new County Hazmat truck was pretty cool too. Most of all, I think it was wonderful to see so many families enjoying the vehicles and trucks together. I think there were a lot of adults that were just as excited to see some of these cars and trucks as the kids. In fact, when the 1966 Shelby Cobra arrived, all of the adults were drooling over it, me included.”
And it wasn’t just the 300 or so Odyssey students – in grades K-8 – who benefitted. Those attending Touch A Truck were offered a discount for their donations to the Coweta Food Pantry, which received 140 cans of food as a result. And Odyssey staff, students and parents already are looking toward next year.
“We already know we want to do it again next year and we’d love to see it become an annual event at Ashley Park,” Petrino said. “Next year, we’d like to add a Brinks truck, a street sweeper, more construction vehicles and some tractors, the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile...the list goes on and on. On my personal wish list: a tank and a hot air balloon. Now those would be things you don’t get to see and climb inside every day.”
“The Odyssey PTO did a wonderful job of putting together this event,” said Andy Geeter, the school’s director. “The response from the community and a number of our local businesses was great. We’re looking forward to an even bigger event next year.”
For information on The Odyssey School, visit http://odysseycharterschool.net .