NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - On a warm spring Friday night, many people go to restaurants or movies, but many residents of Union County had other plans on Friday night. St. Andrew’s Nursery School and Kindergarten in New Providence, held their annual Spring Fling Fundraiser with about 100 people attended.

While for many this was a date night, it was truly an evening about the children. The event featured a Mardi Gras theme, food, drinks, a silent auction, a raffle and a 50/50. All of the proceeds from the event went towards the playground equipment at the school, school scholarships, staff development and the NJ battered women’s shelter in Morris County.  

The three co-chairs of the fundraiser were Kate Thompson, Nikki Fuyala and Gabrielle Silla-Cabrera. Silla-Cabrera’s daughter Agatha is in kindergarten and Thompson’s daughter Matilda and Fuyala’s daughter Olivia are both 4 years old. The women began planning the event in December, but said they wanted to make the fundraiser different from ones in the past.

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“The idea was to get the children involved as much as possible,” Silla-Cabrera said.

The women thought it would be a great idea for the children to contribute to the event, so each student created a mask for the adults to wear and each class made art collages, which were part of the silent auction. This part of the planning was easy, Silla-Cabrera said, but getting vendors to donate prizes was a challenge. Because of the tough economy many businesses couldn’t contribute, but in the end there were no nervous breakdowns and everything worked out, she said.

For the past 40 years, Deborah Cook has been an educator in the public school system, but this year was her first year as director of St. Andrews. While she acknowledged it is quite different than being a teacher or a principal in a town like Livingston, she loves it very much.

Cook said the Spring Fling was a great way for all of the parents to mingle, get to know each other and most importantly a way to give back to the children.

“I thought it was an interesting way to have the children be part of the evening,” Cook said.

The children were very excited when they were making the art pieces, she said. It allowed each student to display their creativity and individuality, Cook added.

One person who knows firsthand about planning the Spring Fling is Emma Ardolik, the Parents Association President. Ardolik, who has a 3-year-old son, chaired the event last year, but could not stay away because she loves to be involved with the school, she said. The past couple years, the fundraiser has been a huge success and she said she hopes it continues into the future.

“I want to be involved,” she said. “It fills my day in a better way than shopping.”

Susan Sturdevant, whose 4-year-old daughter Katelin attends the school and her son did as well, said she loves attending the event because it is always a fun time. Being able to hang out with other parents and give back to the school is a great way to spend a Friday night, she said.

“It’s nice that the school does this,” she said. “It’s nice to see everything go back to the kids.”