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Creative fundraising for tough economic times

"Mr. Perham High School" contestants were, from left, Mike Warne, Jack Meyer, who won First Runner-up and Mr. Congeniality, King Isaac Werner, and Ben Brill. The tongue-in-cheek pageant March 23 was a fundraiser for the Post Prom party.1 / 2
Pictured here are some of the students who worked in the Kenny's Candies warehouse to raise funds for the 2010 Perham High School Post Prom party: Keisha Sazama, Matt Seabrook, Britney Lockhart, Jennifer Peterson, Kandy Rich, Amber Kawlewske, Mary Guck, and Brita Sundberg. Others assisting, but not pictured: Miranda Lockhart, Jessica Speicher, Kristina Januszewski, Aleisha Johnson, Karlie Hoekstra,  Etta Scheidecker, Natalie Wierbos, Brittnee Hersch, Ashley Huntley, Steph Miller, Bruce and Pam Hoekst...2 / 2

A stifling economy hasn't stifled the creativity of the Post Prom Committee and the Perham High School Student Council.

Clever new fundraising ideas have been devised to bankroll the annual Post Prom party this year.

A "Mr. Perham" coronation topped the list of innovative fundraising schemes this year. A crew of students also filed into the Kenny's Candies warehouse, where they went to work moving freight-resulting in a $1,700 donation.

Every little bit of fundraising is helping organizers move toward the goal of about $6,000. Post Prom is a party for students, aimed at keeping them safe and off the road on prom night. The Grand March is May 1, 7:30 p.m., and the Post Prom party is from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.

"Our donations are low this year," said Pam Hoekstra, who is co-chair of the Post Prom Committee with Barb Lockhart. "I think it's because of the economy and our local businesses being asked so often for donations."

"Mr. Perham" was an unusual new event this spring, with proceeds going toward the Post Prom party.

"They crowned a King, First Runner-up and Mr. Congeniality," said Hoekstra. "It was a great night...very funny and the kids had a blast."

The student council and advisor Mary Karkela organized the "Mr. Perham" event. Serving as emcees were Karlie Hoekstra and Emily Zitzow. Winning the crown was Isaac Werner.

More than 63,000 pounds of licorice products were moved in a day, as manager Matt Mitchell put students to work at the Kenny's Candies warehouse. When volunteers came up short one of the days, the girls softball team came to pitch in.

Post Prom is a big undertaking for volunteers, who are broken up into a number of separate committees. Everything is covered-from decorations to games to food to prizes- by the volunteers.

To save money, the committee is looking at all angles.

For the second year, Post Prom party will be hosted at Prairie Wind Middle School. Previously, it was held at the Perham Area Community Center, but there was a rental fee. The money saved in rental will go back to the students, noted Hoekstra; as anybody who stays until the end of the party will receive $20.

The committee is striving to store, reuse and recycle decorations to get more mileage for the dollar. For example, in years past, decorations have been used for the special education dance.

If the decorations are properly stored, many of them can be reused and readapted for other events.

For the first year, a dinner will be offered at Mulligan's prior to prom, noted Hoekstra. The committee is encouraging kids to attend the Mulligan's dinner before prom, in part because of all the proms in the area the same night-and also in an effort to keep more business local.

Nearly every school in the area is having prom the same night...Detroit Lakes, Frazee, Perham, New York Mills, Wadena, and Pelican. That is one of the main reasons the arrangement was made with Mulligan's.

"It will be difficult to get a reservation anywhere," said Hoekstra, "and much safer staying local."

Donations to the prom committee can be mailed to: Post Prom 2010 Perham High School, 200 5th Street SE, Perham, MN 56573.