The Puyallup High School Alumni Association was unable to throw its annual fundraiser last year due to a lack of funds and interest.
This year, the association is trying to change that.
The fundraiser, a dance and dinner that helps raise scholarships for alumni students, will now have an earlier date and a local venue. Previously, the fundraiser was held the same night of the Alumni Assembly in December, amidst the holidays.
Chris Kucklick, president of the Alumni Association since spring of 2016, said this made it difficult for people to attend.
“It’s a hectic time for a lot of people,” said Kucklick, who graduated from Puyallup High School in 1979. “That’s the biggest reason for changing our date.”
The fundraiser is scheduled for Nov. 5. The members are still deciding the details.
The one thing they were determined to do was bring the event back to Puyallup.
The event used to be held at the Washington State Fairgrounds. When that became too expensive, the association turned to Swiss Park in Bonney Lake. But Swiss Park wasn’t even in Puyallup, and it didn’t feel right to the members. So this year, the association snagged Station House 726 on 427 N. Meridian. The building was originally built in 1924 as an Elks Lodge, but since then it has been owned by several different groups until it was recently purchased by Pierce County Professional Firefighters in 2012.
“We’re trying to change it up to get new people in,” Treasurer Patti Jorgensen said. “We thought, ‘How can we say we’re coming back to downtown?’”
We’re trying to get some of the younger alumni involved and use some of their ideas to freshen things up.
Aside from making the fundraiser more accessible, members of the association hope the changes will reel in fresh faces and some younger alumni.
“Moving forward, we’re trying to get some of the younger alumni involved and use some of their ideas to freshen things up,” Kucklick said.
The fundraiser will have a DJ instead of a live band this year so that a variety of music can be played.
Jorgensen hopes to boost participation by challenging scholarship recipients to bring their alumni friends to the annual fundraiser. She also hopes to get more sponsors for the fundraiser to help with raffles, auctions and donations.
“We would love to see local merchants participating and helping out our students,” she said.
While the association had to pass on its fundraiser last year, it still had some extra money to put into scholarships.
Typically, members choose four to seven students to receive $700 to $800 for their scholarships. This year, the association held classes for students to learn how to fill out scholarship applications.
“We were amazed at the number of kids who came in and wanted to understand our scholarships,” Jorgensen said.
While it needed a year to regroup, the association’s eight members don’t plan on fading away anytime soon.
Jerry Ledbetter, previous president of the association from the Class of 1966, has been around since its birth in 1992. The association began doing the dance fundraiser a year later.
“People said it wouldn’t work,” said Ledbetter about the fundraiser. “Years later, we’re still here.”
The members of the association are still ironing out the details of the fundraiser, but they’re determined to do whatever they can to get the word out.
In the past, members collected addresses from everyone who showed up at the dances and compiled a list, said Ledbetter.
Now the association is embracing email and social media.
There is a Puyallup High School Alumni Association Facebook page to keep supporters and alumni up to date. For more information about the association and upcoming fundraiser, contact Kucklick at email@example.com or at 253-845-2345.