The frigid night air didn't stop scores of Easton residents from attending the first-ever holiday ball and silent auction Friday to support the Easton Learning Foundation.
"We have very generous parents," ELF President Bernadette Waterman said as she greeted guests entering the Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield. "Tonight is all about the community coming together to celebrate the holidays and a tribute to Joan Parker."
Parker, the longtime Easton educator and principal at Helen Keller Middle School, died last month after a long battle with cancer. She helped build ELF since its 2004 inception and remained an active contributor. "We received many donations in honor of Joan. ... Her legacy will continue on, and our whole community, ELF included, will strive to continue her legacy," Waterman said.
The silent auction was a first for the group, which has raised $400,000 during its tenure.
"There's a real community feel about this event," Waterman said. "Everything that we raise will benefit children K through 12, and will help fund innovative technologies, classroom projects and things that fall outside the school budget."
The auction began online two weeks before the party, an idea implemented by ELF board member Don Landry. Board member Kathy Dunsby organized the auction donors, which included Harpers Store in Fairfield, local teachers, parents and town officials.
"Most [of the donations] came from parent-owned businesses," Waterman said. Other items included an autographed photo and plaque of Yankees' star Derek Jeter, a ride to school on a fire truck and a chance to be principal for a day at Samuel Staples.
ELF founders Ann Leibell, Karen O'Brien and Barbie Powell were also in attendance.
"There's really a need for education foundations," Leibell said. "It's been a great community thing to do because it's nonpolitical. It's really kind of a win-win situation."
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