A Rose Valley grandmother is hoping a local cat show will raise enough scratch to help support a popular school program for Kelso sixth-graders.
Hundreds of cat lovers are expected to show up Saturday in Longview for a regional cat show, and proceeds from admission will go toward funding a day of outdoor school for about 370 Kelso students.
Maureen Clark says the event — which is put on by Fancy That Cat Club — is part of a larger volunteer effort to pay for a program the Kelso School District stopped funding three years ago. Clark, whose granddaughter MacKenna Goldsbary attends Coweeman Middle School, sprang into action after she learned MacKenna and her classmates might not get to experience the outdoor school program unless they raise about $12,000.
"That was enough for me to step up to bat and say, ‘I can help,'" Clark said.
The cat show is a regular event in Longview, but Clark convinced fellow organizers to use the money to support the Kelso school program.
A group of about a dozen other volunteers has met twice to plan additional fundraisers.
In 2009, facing a $3 million drop in funding, the Kelso School District eliminated its outdoor education program. For decades, sixth-graders traveled to Cispus Learning Center near Randle each fall for an overnight trip to learn about science and the environment. The following school year, a group of parents gathered about $15,000 through donations and fundraisers. It was enough to provide a one-day, scaled-back version of outdoor school at Longview School District's Wake Robin campus near Coal Creek. Last year, parents and volunteers rounded up money to again offer the 12-hour experience at Wake Robin.
"It was just a great experience for her to be able to get out in the woods," Clark said.
It costs about $12,000 to pay for transportation, portable toilets, food, staff stipends and activity supplies at Wake Robin, said Mary Beth Tack, director of teaching and learning for Kelso schools.
Each student is asked to pay a $10 fee, and some money raised last year can be carried over and used this year. The rest needs to be raised by volunteers.
Clark, who makes cat beds and toys and is a regular vendor at cat shows, says she hopes the cat show can raise about $500.
MacKenna, Clark's granddaughter, is showing a feline in the "household pet" division of Saturday's show, which begins at 9 a.m. at the Cowlitz Regional Conference Center. MacKenna found "Gracie," a one-year-old black mackerel tabby, in the Rose Valley woods near a cardboard box that held a half-dozen other kittens.
The group of Kelso volunteers is scheduling additional fundraising events to pay for the outdoor school.
A comedy show is planned for Nov. 12 at Poker Pete's in Kalama. Tickets for that show are $15. A roller derby bout and Krispy Kreme doughnut sale also are in the works, Clark said.
The group needs to raise the money by Dec. 31, Clark said. While they'd gladly accept donations, the group is trying to avoid going door-to-door and asking businesses for help.
"We're not trying to go out there and nickel-and-dime the business people," Clark said.