VMA ‘Trekking’ fundraiser to buy cafeteria furniture

Members of the pre-K class were who took part in ‘Trekking for Villa Maria Academy’ were given medals for taking part in the fundraiser for the school.
Photo courtesy of Michael Bernard / Villa Maria Academy

A local elementary and junior-high school held a week-long fundraiser to raise supplemental funds for their students.

For the seventh year, the entire school community at the Country Club school raised funds with their annual event: Trekking for Villa Maria Academy.

All grades at the school participated in the fundraiser, which has the students walking or jogging for fitness and facilities improvements during their Physical Education classes from Monday, October 2 to Friday, October 6.

The pledge-driven fundraiser promotes physical fitness while getting everyone from pre-k students to eight graders on the school’s track to raise money. Parents sponsor the children’s laps around the school’s track.

This year’s cause is an unglamorous but necessary improvement: new tables and chairs for the school’s three buildings, said Michael Bernard, Villa Maria Academy physical education director.

The event has it origins in two earlier fundraisers netting upwards of $20,000 to repair the running track after it was literally torn apart by Hurricane Irene in 2011 and then again by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, said Bernard.

In more recent years, trekking funds were used to purchase a new jungle gym with a base that resists water pooling, and to purchase a John Deere tractor to maintain the school’s eight-acre campus alongside Eastchester Bay, he said.

“It is not a glamorous thing like the track and the jungle gym, but it is a necessity,” said Bernard of the chairs and tables, explaining that they are badly needed because currently the ones the school does have need to be transported all over campus.

Chairs are needed in the schools Great Hall, a space on the fourth floor of the school’s main building where liturgies are held, as well as in the gymnasium.

They are badly needed in the school’s cafeteria, where students are eating on tables that date back to when VMA was a high school in the 1960s.

“Our goal is replace all the tables in the cafeteria,” said Bernard. “The kids right now are eating on the same tables they used 60 years ago.”

The exercise focus of the event drives home a lesson that the young people should exercise their bodies throughout their entire lifetimes, he said.

Parents can donate whatever they wish for the cause, he said.

“Some of the parents give a flat amount; some of the parents have given $40 and some turned in $400,” said Bernard, adding that the three top donors will receive prizes, which could include ‘dress-down’ days for the children or gift certificates to restaurants for the parents.

John Marano, a VMA parent who volunteered to assist with the event, said that Trekking for the Track is a fundraiser that makes a measurable difference in the quality of the facilities.

Marano said that fundraising is especially important at VMA because it is not a parish school.

“Villa Maria doesn’t have a parish affiliation, so we don’t get funding from the archdiocese,” said Marano, adding “This is a fundraiser for all of the things that make the school a better place.”

Jean-Marie Piccininni, VMA’s director of finance, came up with the term of ‘trekking’ for the event and the concept of parents pledging funds for the laps their children run or walk around the track, said Bernard.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
Physical education teacher Michael Bernard, an educator at the school for three decades, congratulates some of the top pre-K trekkers.
Photo courtesy of Michael Bernard / Villa Maria Academy

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