NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Almost every school district in East Texas offers an alcohol-drug free environment for graduating high school students. The party is funded through community support, and making budget goals is a challenge for the classes of 2013.
Project Graduation volunteers are on a mission. With just over a week to go, groups are still raising money, including Nacogdoches.
"I would say we're still short about $5,000," said Kalin Kendrick, a Nacogdoches Project Graduation volunteer.
"I think about five or six, that's right," said Cindy Perry, another Nacogdoches Project Graduation volunteer."
Perry said if they don't manage to raise the rest of the budgeted money, it's not going to be the end of the world.
"Well, what we get, what we collect from the businesses and the prizes and the raffle items, that's what we have to go with," Perry said.
It wouldn't really be all that bad. Numerous televisions, electronic tablets, gift cards and a whole lot more make up the prizes.
"Without the support of our community there would be no project graduation," Kendrick said.
It's an event students have come to expect. The night of fun, games and all those gifts provide a safe alternative to the traditional drinking and driving temptations. However, it takes a lot of time, energy and networking to host a party for almost 500 guests.
"I know Kalin and I both have had to make multiple visits to people, multiple phone calls," Perry said. "Instead of just one letter doing the trick and reminding people, we've sent two fund raisers."
Donors generally come through, but there is one noticeable difference from previous years.
"They have scaled back quite a bit," Kendrick said.
Businesses and individuals say the economy, other charitable causes, and just wanting to hang onto their money are why donations aren't what they've been in years past.
Volunteers are grateful for any donation and remain confident they'll reach their goal by graduation night.
Donations can be made to any graduation night event at any time. What funds aren't used this year are banked away for next year's party. Check with your community's high school on how to help out.