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St. Anthony of Padua maintains fund-raising traditions
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Three weeks from today, the St. Anthony of Padua School will throw its own version of a crab feed fund-raiser.

It will be a feast of marinated crab accompanied by homemade marinara and pesto pasta, plus salad and bread, dessert, and wine. The $40 dinner cost will ensure not just good food but a night of fun complete with live and silent auctions with a good measure of music and dancing until midnight thrown in. Doors will open at 5 p.m. The venue for this Saturday, Jan. 29 extravaganza will be the school gym located at 323 N. Fremont Ave., corner Sutter Street.

The event could become another long-running annual fund-raising activity for this Manteca parochial school which was established in the early 1950s. Despite the stiff competition in crab-feed fund-raising events at this time of the year in Manteca when practically every weekend in January and February has one on schedule, the school went ahead and hosted one last year. The fact a second annual crab feed is being held at the end of the month is testimony to the success of its maiden launch.

With the Great Recession that is still keeping a tight grip on the sluggish economy, everybody including private schools such as St. Anthony of Padua is trying to create every possible way to generate much-needed revenue. And with each generation of students and parents come ideas that are in tune with the times.

Four years ago, for example, the Parent-Teacher Group came up with a fund-raising project to welcome spring called Table Setting. This year, this event which has captured a lot of fans will be held on Saturday, March 19. The theme for this fun-filled gathering is reminiscent of another popular annual event that the Soroptimist International of Manteca holds every year. As Principal Mary Lou Hoffman explained it, “People decorate a table, come up with a theme, and have people come in and sit at their table.” Money is raised by selling tickets to those who come to partake in the luncheon.

A February event, which has proved to be more of a “community builder (and) not so much a money raiser,” according to the principal, is the annual Father-Daughter Dance. This year, this special fun event will be held on Saturday, Feb. 12.

The school’s various classes, in addition, have their own “little fund-raisers” throughout the year, Hoffman said. There was one class, for example, which sold re-usable bags last fall. Younger students in the lower grades sell the same thing in the spring.

In April is the drive-thru dinner that the students hold to raise money for Science Camp. “They’ve been doing that for a few years,” Hoffman said.
This year, that fund-raiser is scheduled for Wednesday, April 6.

Fund-raisers that have come and gone, with some enjoying a long run and popularity, include the annual Mardi Gras extravaganza that was always held the Saturday before Fat Tuesday which ushered in the season of lent, the annual wine tasting which survived for a few years, and the school’s longest-running and most popular fund-raiser of all – the weekly bingo games.

“There are certain things you can and can’t do with all these state rules – you can’t gamble anymore,” explained Hoffman noting part of the reason for the demise of some of the school’s fund-raising venues through the decades.

A few of the tried-and-true heavyweight fund-raisers continue to attract St. Anthony parishioners and non-parishioners alike: the perennially popular holiday luncheon and crafts faire in November, and the traditional harvest festival in September. The harvest festival proceeds support various parish programs including the school.

Minnie Martz, whose two children and three grandchildren all graduated from St. Anthony of Padua School, said an annual spring salad luncheon was the precursor to the holiday luncheon.

“At that time, when it was a salad luncheon, we, the parents had to furnish the salad. We had to make two (kinds of) salad,” Martz reminisced with plenty of nostalgia.

She recalled the annual Mardi Gras as “a big fund-raiser and a very big social event. That was the biggest function at that time,” added Martz who still remains active in the parish as the marriage coordinator.

Martz said it was a sacrifice sending their children to private school but, “We believe in the Catholic education; it was something that we (with late husband Bruce) felt the children would be better for it. We were very pleased with the education that they received. It really showed when they went to high school how much more advanced they were.”