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Drive a car, help a student

SAM School teams with Ford to raise cash

By: Kevin Ma

  |  Posted: Saturday, Sep 22, 2012 06:00 am

DRIVING FORCE – Sir Alexander MacKenzie fundraising organizers (L-R) Christina Green-Sirack, Roxane Closson, Lisa Blankenstein, Jenell Thomas, Cathy Miller and Alison Howes are all helping organize the school's barbecue event next week where anyone who test-drives a Ford vehicle helps the school earn money. City Ford is sponsoring the barbecue and will donate $20 to the school for every test-drive taken.
DRIVING FORCE – Sir Alexander MacKenzie fundraising organizers (L-R) Christina Green-Sirack, Roxane Closson, Lisa Blankenstein, Jenell Thomas, Cathy Miller and Alison Howes are all helping organize the school's barbecue event next week where anyone who test-drives a Ford vehicle helps the school earn money. City Ford is sponsoring the barbecue and will donate $20 to the school for every test-drive taken.
CHRIS COLBOURNE/St. Albert Gazette

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Parents can help a local elementary school raise cash for kids next week by test-driving a new car.

The Sir Alexander Mackenzie (SAM) school fundraising society is holding its third annual family barbecue next Wednesday. The event is meant to give parents a chance to socialize and to raise funds through the sale of burgers and hot dogs.

New to this year’s event is an unusual fund-raising event provided by corporate sponsor Ford.

City Ford will have about five new vehicles at SAM during the barbecue available to test drive, says general sales manager Shannon Balkan. Ford Canada will give the school $20 for every test-drive taken by an adult, up to a maximum of $6,000.

This is the first time that the group has had sponsors at its events, says Christina Green-Siracky, chair of the school’s fundraising society. Daytona Homes and Save On Foods have also signed on.

“I think its great that these stores are stepping in,” she says. “It certainly helps us out and hopefully raises money for the school.”

Business chips in

The test-drive event is part of Ford’s Drive 4 UR School program, explains Balkan, whom locals may know as the lady from the City Ford commercials. The program, which has been in Canada since about 2010, has local dealerships partner with schools to raise money.

The American version of this program has been around since 2007, according to Ford’s corporate website, and has produced about $12 million in donations.

This is the first time that City Ford has partnered with a St. Albert school, Balkan says. “I have kids in the (St. Albert) school system,” she says, “and it seemed like a good community event to be out there.” She also hopes it will draw more customers to her dealership.

The school stumbled across this program last spring when a parent learned about it through a Ford dealership in Fort Saskatchewan, says principal John Strembitski. That dealership held a similar event at Landing Trail School in Gibbons on Sept. 13 and raised about $2,500 for the school.

This is a parent-organized event, Strembitski notes, and is not being run by SAM school itself. “I’m not displaying Ford in the gym during classes,” he says, and the school won’t be putting up corporate logos for these sponsors. “We’re not for sale.”

The school tries to raise about $35,000 a year for field trips, new equipment and other extras, Green-Siracky says, and has in the past sold tickets, coupon books, and magazines. “This is the most unique experience we’ve had so far at SAM.”

You have to get beyond bake sales nowadays to raise money, Strembitski says, and he applauded the parents’ society for its creativity. “Every dollar that the SAM fundraising society contributes is a dollar that doesn’t have to come from regular classroom allocations.”

These sponsors take some of the pressure off parents to hold events and shell out cash, Green-Siracky says.

“They’re not having to take money out of their pocket again for their child’s fundraising. This is just simply going for a nice test drive in a brand-new-smelling vehicle.”

The barbecue runs from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the school on Sept. 26. Meals are $3 and the test drives are free. Drivers must be 18 or older and have a valid driver’s license. For details, call Strembitski at 780-459-4467.


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