Thanks to Cherokee Service for their support.
Originally planned for Saturday, March 14—basically the beginning of the widespread closures to slow the spread of the virus—organizers decided on Thursday to close the in-person event and go with an online livestream.
Somerset Social would be social distancing.
“This wasn’t the party we were expecting, but we are happy to be here,” said organizer Andy Berndt during the livestream. Berndt is a West St. Paul resident, has a second grader at Somerset, and his wife teaches kindergarten at Somerset.
“When we realized it was the decision we had to make, we were all really sad,” said Berndt. “We knew this would affect our total donations, and we were bummed.”
But that’s not how it worked out. Last year’s event raised $30,000. The 2020 online effort raised $33,000.
“We poured ourselves into figuring out how to still make the Somerset Social a fun and engaging night,” Berndt explained. “The whole event is about building community and raising money. So that in-person aspect is so important. So the fact that the video was live and people could interact with us was really important. If we just said, ‘Yeah, the auction is open, bid if you want to,’ I feel like the total would’ve been really different.”
The online stream had 230 unique viewers, lots of watching parties, and more than 300 people bidding on items or donating.
“We basically had a day to figure it out,” said Berndt. “It really was a huge community pulling together to pull this off.”
The Somerset Social is the biggest fundraiser for Somerset’s PTA. About half the students at Somerset come from West St. Paul. The money raised will provide $1,500 for the third and fourth grade play, $4,000 for field trip transportation, and pay for classroom grants, new library materials, Kindness Day, recess equipment, year book, and more.
Thanks to everyone who helped make this effort successful. It’s always incredible to see our community come together and rise above whatever challenges we may face.
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