It might only be mid-December, but the folks at the Achieve Foundation are already planning for its 9th Annual Night of 100 Dinners, which will be held on Saturday, March 2, 2013.
The event asks South Orange and Maplewood residents to open their homes to dinner guests to help raise critical funding for the foundation's programs that benefit the South Orange - Maplewood School District (SOMSD).
Here is a short list of what Achieve (formerly known as SOMEF) helps to fund: teacher and administrator grants, the Achieve volunteer tutoring program, the restoration of the Columbia High School auditorium, family support initiatives and more.
'It's a festive evening that serves as the largest annual fundraiser for the Achieve Foundation and has become a wonderful community-building event," said Eileen Collins Neri, who co-chairs the event with Mutlu Bascillar. "We received such positive feedback from our amazing hosts and their guests last year about what a fun experience the Night of 100 Dinners is, and we were thrilled because we raised more than $50,000 to benefit programs in all the district's schools."
Hosts provide the food and location, and for their part, dinner guests are asked to donate a minimum or $50 per person to the Achieve Foundation. All the money raised goes to fund Achieve programs.
Last year, nearly 800 participants attended 41 parties, raising over $52,000. "This year our goal is 45 dinners," said Neri.
The fundraiser began nine years ago, with around 100 people attending parties. Since then, it has grown in popularity and has become a greatly anticipated annual event.
Last year's parties included a murder mystery party where hosts and guests dressed the part of a bride, groom, and the rest of the wedding party, a Mad Men themed party, and one party with entertainment by student performers from the Columbia High School musical West Side Story.
But a party can be as simple as a group of families doing potluck or a girls' night out with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. It's entirely up to the hosts.
"No dinner is too big or too small," said Neri.
To get a taste of the festivities, browse some photos from last year and start planning for local fun.
If you would like to host a party, or just to learn more about the event, contact Eileen Neri at firstname.lastname@example.org or 973.763.6244