PUBLISHED: 4:12 PM on Wednesday, October 4, 2006
Mendenhall River School sets out to find 200 volunteers

Photo by Amy Steffian
  Tami Bowman tapes a pumpkin to seek volunteers for the Fall Festival at Mendenhall River Community School.
When Tami Bowman's daughter started kindergarten at Mendenhall River Community School this fall, Tami saw an opportunity to connect with Juneau and meet people in her new hometown. Organizing the school's annual Fall Festival seemed like a great place to start. Working with co-chairs Andrea Stasyszen and Meraiah Verholla, Bowman is getting to know many people. Her goal is 200.

Organized by the school's Parent Teacher Organization, the fall festival features games, prizes, food and a haunted house for MRCS students and their families. Organizers call it a "fun raiser," as the festival is not a moneymaking event, but a chance for families to play together. Students come in costumes and buy tickets for games. They earn more tickets tossing, fishing or bowling, and then turn their winnings into prizes and snacks.

Fall festival is the school's biggest event, greatly anticipated by students. Yet in 2005, no one volunteered to organize the event, causing its cancellation. It takes a surprisingly large number of people to run the festival. In the past the average number of volunteers has been about 200.

Bowman, the PTO, and a growing group of volunteers are determined that this year will be different. Disappointed by the absence of the festival last October, parents are signing up to help, joined by spouses, siblings, and friends. A graph in the school lobby charts their progress and illustrates that the goal of recruiting 200 helpers is not far off.

"I think we'll make it," said Bowman, smiling as she tapes a paper pumpkin with festival information to the school door. "Juneau is a very friendly place, and the parents at MRCS are responding kindly to our requests for help. We already have about 70 volunteers, and we've just started to ask."