February fundraising festivities across Mt. PleasantFind a new way to give back to the community

It might be cold out, but a great way to warm your heart is by giving back. There are plenty of opportunities to give back to the Mt. Pleasant community coming up—from fundraising dinners, galas, special night out events, and even a polar plunge. Here’s how you can get involved with local organizations in their mission to raise funds this February. 

Bowties & Bourbon Event, Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum

The Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum invites the community for its annual bourbon-infused culinary competition and fundraising gala on Friday, Feb. 2 from 7 to 11 p.m. Bowties & Bourbon celebrates the museum’s place in the community, and helps ensure funding for future years. 

Museum marketing and communications coordinator, Dev Waslusky, says the event ties back to the museum’s mission to enhance the community by inspiring creativity, learning and curiosity. 

Courtesy Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum
“The museum has become a forefront leader in supporting local schools, young families, and children throughout Michigan,” Waslusky says. “We believe in being an extension of the classroom and offering a space where educational discovery enhances the life of every child that walks through our doors.”

“Research has shown that the pandemic has impacted young children’s educational journeys in unfavorable ways,” continues Waslusky. “We believe we can help our community’s educators and parents work together to kickstart a new era of play-based learning and social skills.”

Courtesy Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum
Last year’s event raised almost $50,000, and Waslusky is hoping this year’s event can top that number. The event is sponsored by Graff Mt. Pleasant, Krapohl Ford & Lincoln, Buck’s Run, The Morey Foundation, and Fisher Companies. 

The 21+ up event includes an evening of presentations, speeches, music, dancing, dining, and drinking. Tickets are $100 each, or free with a $250 sponsorship. Each event ticket includes two drink tickets. 

“Everyone will be able to purchase ‘bourbon bucks’ that will help support their favorite restaurant(s) toward winning the culinary competition,” Waslusky says. “There will be a bowtie contest midway through the event, and a photobooth and photographer to capture the moments and memories of the night.”

Mt. Pleasant Optimist Club Annual Dinner Raffle

The Mt. Pleasant Optimist Club is made up of local residents who believe in bringing out the best in the community. If there’s a need in the community, they work hard to bring a solution through service, hope, and optimism. 

The Club is hosting its 16th annual dinner and raffle fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 3 at 5 p.m. at the Comfort Inn & Suites and Conference Center. The event begins at 5 p.m. with a social hour; dinner and raffle drawings follow. Live entertainment will be provided by Jedi Mind Trip. 

Tickets are $200 per couple, including dinner, two drinks each, late-night snacks and a chance to win grand prizes. The dress code is casual for this event, and the theme is football fashion. 

Special Olympics Polar Plunge

The biggest fundraiser for Special Olympics Michigan is a chilly one, but also a community favorite event: the Polar Plunge. The event is presented by the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), an organization of volunteers dedicated to increasing awareness and money for Special Olympics of Michigan athletes. 

The annual event takes place on Saturday, Feb. 10 this year. The plunge check-in and pre-party starts at 11 a.m. at O’Kelly/Wayside, followed by the pool plunge that starts at noon in their parking lot. 

Courtesy Special Olympics Michigan
Funds raised will help provide year-round training and services to over 23,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities throughout Michigan. Last year’s polar plunges raised over $1.7 million across 25 different locations in the state. This year, the goal for the state is $1.5 million, and the Mt. Pleasant plunge specifically hopes to raise $60,000. 

Special Olympics Michigan director of communications and multimedia, Bo Parker, says the event helps to create a world accepting and welcoming of every person, regardless of ability or disability. 

“The mission of Special Olympics Michigan has been important to Mt. Pleasant community members for decades,” he says. “Here, the Mt. Pleasant community shows up in a big way, by volunteering and supporting our athletes during their competition and stay, making long-lasting memories.”

Courtesy Special Olympics Michigan
To participate, there is a minimum of $100 fundraising required. All ages are welcome to sign up for the event, and there are options for those who don’t want to brave the icy waters. There is a $20 ‘“too chicken” fundraising crew option which includes a commemorative t-shirt, but does not require an actual plunge.

“These events are a great way to do something to push your comfort zone to help others out at the same time,” Parker says. “Every dollar raised goes to our Special Olympics Michigan athletes, so you can know that you’re doing something impactful in the state and community.”

Annual SHAgala Fundraiser

Sacred Heart Academy is hosting the annual SHAgala, a black-and-white affair, on Saturday, Feb. 10 at the school’s gymnasium. The 30th annual event is a fundraiser for the school, starting at 4:30 p.m. with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Following cocktails, guests can anticipate dinner from Wood Shop Social, a live auction, silent auction, photos, and games.

Courtesy Sacred Heart Academy
Lindsay Ley, director of development at Sacred Heart Academy (SHA), says the event began when parents were looking to raise funds to help with the rising operational costs. They hoped to raise funds to keep tuition down, and help support teacher salaries. 

“SHAgala is Sacred Heart Academy’s largest single fundraiser hosted each year,” Ley says. “Money raised at our dinner/auction helps keep Catholic education affordable. Every student at SHA benefits from the money raised.”

Many volunteers behind the scenes make the event possible, including parents, alumni, and community members. Each year, the goal is to raise $250,000 to go directly back to the school operations and teacher salaries. 

“Over the previous 29 years, the SHAgala has raised more than $3 million for the benefit of the academy,” Ley says. 

Courtesy Sacred Heart AcademyTickets are $125 per person. There’s also a virtual SHAgala-from-home option, allowing access to the silent auction and games. The event is for 21+ up. Tickets are available online. If you need assistance, contact shagala@sha.net

There are other ways to get involved with Sacred Heart Academy, too. Donations to the Giving Tree sponsor program are available—providing collections for the teachers. Donations for auction items, services, and classroom baskets are accepted. $100 cash raffle tickets are available, as well as program advertisement spots. Volunteers are also needed for the event’s set-up, tear-down and gift collection—no church affiliation necessary. 

“We continue to be blessed by the support of the greater community and amazed by the participants who didn’t have children attend the Academy and aren’t members of our church,” Ley says. “They gather with friends and enjoy the level of fun each year, getting dressed up and going to a first-class event. Sacred Heart enjoys hosting them each year, right along with our parents, alumni, and parishioners.”

Mt. Pleasant Rotary Club’s Annual Beef Tenderloin Dinner

Every year since 1963, the Mt. Pleasant Rotary Club has hosted an annual Beef Tenderloin and Turkey Dinner. This year’s annual event takes place on Saturday, Feb. 17 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Mt. Pleasant Comfort Inn and Suites Conference Center. The Rotary Club has been active in Mt. Pleasant for 99 years with over 60 members, helping fund bridges, recognizing teachers, providing resources for local soup kitchens, diaper donations, elementary school camps, outdoor equipment, and more. 

Kelly Hudson, Rotary Club president, says the event has many goals, including to support its mission of providing service, promoting integrity, and advancing world understanding, goodwill and peace through business, professional fellowship and community leadership. Funds raised go back directly to the community in the shape of grants

Courtesy Mt. Pleasant Rotary Club
“Since July, we’ve given out nearly $14,000 in grants to ten organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum, several local elementary schools, and more,” Hudson says. 

“We also use funds raised to recognize exceptional teachers and students through our Golden Apple Award (for teachers) and Student of the Month.” she continues. “At the end of the school year, one of the students of the month is selected to receive a scholarship from Rotary.”

Another goal is to give folks the opportunity to dine together as fellow community supporters. 

“Many families attend the beef dinner every year and take the opportunity to visit with others when they’re there. It’s a social occasion,” Hudson says. 

Last year, the beef dinner raised around $6,000, and Hudson is hoping to increase that number this year. 

Courtesy Mt. Pleasant Rotary Club“Our largest fundraising efforts each year are the Rotary Auction and annual sponsorships from supporters of our club, but we really enjoy the beef dinner since it brings so many people from our community together,” she says. “Our members also enjoy the dinner and you’ll find them restocking the food, serving beverages, making the to-go boxes, and welcoming guests throughout the event. It’s an all-hands-on-deck event and we get nearly 100% participation from our members every year.”

The event is similar to an open-house style dinner, so diners can drop-in anytime during the dinner for dine-in or take-out. Meals include all-you-can-eat beef tenderloin, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, coleslaw, bread, and dessert. Kids meals include all-you-can-eat chicken fingers, mac and cheese, and french fries. There will also be live entertainment featuring a quartet. Tickets are $35 for adults, $10 for kids ages 6-12, and $5 for kids 5 and under. 

Hudson invites residents to consider joining as new members. The Rotary Club meets every Monday for lunch at Mountain Town Station in downtown Mt. Pleasant at noon. 
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Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.

Sarah Spohn is a Lansing native, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over Michigan, leaving her truly smitten with the mitten. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, community, and anything Michigan-made. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at sarahspohn.news@gmail.com.