FONTANA — With pluck, determination and sales savvy, five members of the Fontana Elementary School student council went to area businesses to make personal appeals for donations to pay for a new scoreboard in the school gym.
The end result: The five girls raised $8,900 in donations, enough for a new scoreboard that will be ready before the school’s next basketball season.
And along the way, they impressed local business owners with their sales skills as they made face-to-face appeals for funding.
On April 22, the girls — Josie Giroux, Brooke Brown, Grace Hansen, Scarlett Georges and Julia DeLeon, all eighth-graders and all student athletes — were recognized for their successful fundraising by the Fontana School Board.
It was a tribute to Fontana girl power.
Cory Foat, the student council’s faculty adviser, said it was pretty apparent that the current scoreboard, already some 30 years old, was having problems.
It stopped keeping score this year.
“It died,” Josie said. “Right after girls basketball season.”
Josie and her four fellow student council members decided something had to be done.
Foat said she and the girls did some brainstorming, and the girls decided to raise money in the school.
At the same time, school librarian Annalise Gutierrez contacted scoreboard makers for some pricing quotes.
The in-school fundraising netted about $400. But it became apparent more money was going to be needed.
“We decided we needed to reach out to the community in order to obtain the funds needed,” Foat said.
It started as a letter-writing campaign.
“We wrote a letter to local businesses,” Brooke said.
Included with the letter was a picture of the scoreboard the students wanted to buy.
Foat said she helped the girls craft the letter, which asked businesses for sponsorships and in return, the school would offer two options of advertising space within the gymnasium.
“The girls used a lot of their free time and lunch periods to stuff envelopes and address them to area businesses,” Foat said.
A few businesses reached out right away, offering to be sponsors. But it became apparent that a personal approach would be needed.
Brooke said the girls asked if they could go out in the community and personally talk with business owners.
School officials were on board, and gave permission for the girls to do some face-to-face marketing.
Guttierez fired up the school van and on April 15 the Fontana five hit the road, visiting about 25 businesses in Fontana and Walworth and as far away as Delavan and Lake Geneva.
At least two businessmen said it was the personal approach that won them over.
“They came in person, and they had nice delivery,” said Gary Jurgensen, owner of Jurg’s Greenhouse, 140 Ridge Road, Walworth.
“Their pitch was polished and they had pictures of the scoreboard they wanted to buy,” he said. “How nice of a thing that was.”
Eric Hurkman, owner of Fontana Jewelers, 553 Valley View Drive, Fontana, said he, too, was impressed by the girls’ commitment.
“They specifically came in,” he said of the five girls. “The parents didn’t come in. That was a big brownie point. They did it themselves.”
Hurkman said Fontana Jewelers donated a Geneva Lake bracelet, which features a charm shaped like Geneva Lake. He said the bracelet would be used to raise money through a raffle.
“Empowered women,” Hurkman said of the girls. “Well, the younger versions. That’s really cool.”
Jurgensen said people wanting donations should come in person, just like the five Fontana students.
He said he did not hesitate at making a donation. Although in Walworth, Jurgensen said he had no problems giving money for the Fontana school.
“A lot of my customers are Fontana residents,” he said.
Foat said the school board decided on a scoreboard made by a company called Daktronics. The new scoreboard will be installed in June.
Meanwhile, the old scoreboard may have also found a new home.
The Walworth Skating Rink asked for the old scoreboard. The donated board will be repaired to keep score for hockey games.