Oley teachers share food, laughs while raising money for a good cause

Photo by Lynn Gladieux
Photo by Lynn Gladieux

Who said raising money can’t be fun?

Just ask the 30 or so current and former Oley Valley Elementary teachers who recently got together and raised over $2,000 toward the fight against cancer.

The group, which includes several long-time retirees, met recently at the Pike Township home of physical education teacher Roberta “Bobbi” Bressler to share food and fellowship and to auction items for the benefit of the American Cancer Society. Bressler says the event, which comes smack in the middle of the holiday season, is a fun way to celebrate while at the same time giving back.

“It’s really nice to get together with your coworkers and do something for a good cause,” Bressler said. “It’s great camaraderie.”

Bressler says the idea of the auction came about in 2007, when teachers decided they wanted to help their school’s Relay for Life team by holding an auction at their annual Christmas party. Each would bring a wrapped gift item that would later be auctioned to the highest bidder.

Since then, the group has raised a whopping $11,132 to help fight cancer. This includes a sizable contribution from a group of Oley Valley retired teachers who meet regularly for lunch

Bressler admits that for this year’s party, she was doing a lot of last-minute decorating and never did get to thoroughly shovel her driveway, which was packed with about eight inches of crunchy snow. Yet no one seemed to mind as they noshed away on chicken wings and party punch.

Second-grade teachers Beth Cummings and Julie Wert said they’ve been attending the event for several years, an annual tradition neither said they’d want to miss “It’s great so see your colleagues outside of school while doing something for a great cause,” Cummings said.

And a great cause it is. According to the American Cancer Society’s website, an estimated 580,350 Americans will die of cancer this year alone. Cancer remains the second most common cause of death in the U.S., accounting for nearly 1 out of every 4 deaths. Funds raised by nationwide Relay for Life groups for the benefit of ACS total $18 million annually.

“The American Cancer Society is a charity close to us,” event organizer Mary Anne Blocher says. “We all know someone who is dealing with this disease.”

Back at the auction, auctioneers Mark Rhoads and MaryLou Parry get the bidding going, and things move along quickly. Rhoads takes bids as high as $50 for beautifully wrapped but mysteriously anonymous items, all purchased or hand-made around this year’s theme of “Christmas/Winter.” After more than an hour of furious bidding, and with all the packages finally claimed, Blocher reported a total of $2,119 had been raised.

Asked why she was willing host the event at what is unquestionably the busiest time of year, Bressler was quick to answer. “I’ve lost my mother, an aunt and a cousin to cancer. I’ve been personally affected, and this is just a great way to give back.”

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