Despite COVID-19, Grand Island Central Catholic hopes to raise needed funds by going virtual with its annual fundraiser Friday night.
The school, in conjunction with the GICC Development Foundation, will host the 23rd annual Knight fundraiser beginning at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on the GICC Facebook page, the GICC Development Foundation’s Facebook page and GICC’s YouTube channel.
The virtual event will feature silent and live auctions, as well as a raffle drawing for $40,000 toward a new vehicle, donated by Kim and Tom Dinsdale.
Jean Hamik, co-chair of this year’s Knight, said she and her fellow co-chairs, Kayla Chrastil and Kellie Weyers, started planning and organizing this year’s fundraising event this past January. She said they thought everything would be fine by November, but that once COVID-19 cases started going up and other private schools started going virtual, GICC also needed to virtually host the Knight this year.
“Basically, we planned for a live auction up until the last month and a half to two months,” Hamik said. “We decided to go virtual because schools who do live events like we do were going virtual. So it was looking more and more like that was the way we were going to have to go.”
Jolene Wojcik, executive director of the GICC Development Foundation, said GICC lost three of its main fundraisers — Husker Harvest Days, Karnival Kapers and the annual steak feed — due to COVID-19, so the Knight fundraiser is crucial to the school raising needed funds and making up for lost income.
Typically, she said, the funds raised at the annual event will go toward specific projects at GICC, but due to COVID-19 canceling these fundraisers, the funds will go toward the school’s operating expenses.
“Private schools are not funded by the state like public schools are, so we really live for our fundraisers; they are huge for us,” Hamik said.
Earlier this week, GICC hosted preview nights where members of the public could come in to view the auction items prior to Friday night’s event. Usually, Hamik said, there is just one preview night, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, and the Knight going virtual, these have been expanded to two nights with extended hours.
“This year, we are not going to have the live events, so this is really necessary so people can come in and view the items, which they would have seen had they attended the Knight in person,” she said. “There is no live ceremony, so these are the only times people can really come see what they can bid on; it makes a big difference I think.”
Some of the items up for bid at the auctions available for people to view at the preview night included sports items, clothing, a snow blower and shotguns. Hamik and Wojcik said all of the auction items for the Knight event were donated by GICC supporters.
Wojcik said having a virtual Knight this year will allow for anyone, from anywhere, to participate in the Knight by bidding on the auction items. Those interested in bidding on the auction items and/or buying a raffle ticket can do so online at bidpal.net/knight2020 or by texting “knight2020” to 243725.
“We targeted our alumni more than we did in the past,” Wojcik said. “We have had alumni from all over the country that have bought raffle tickets to help support us. That really has not occurred in prior years, so we have had good support from alumni.”
Wojcik said GICC does not have a goal of how much it wants to raise from the Knight, but that it wants to raise “as much money as possible.”
“This is such a tradition here for the Knight and people are so used to it,” Hamik said. “We just want to encourage people that it is the same thing as before, we are doing the same wonderful gifts that we do every year — different ones — and really want to encourage people to get together in small groups, versus a big event. Everyone is still together in spirit.”
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