Primary

LEEF hopes to score big with Gala

Longmeadow Educational Excellence Foundation Gala Co-Chairpersons Jen Santos and Jen Cosgrove are surrounded by a display of items that will be up for auction at the event this year. (Photo by Hope E. Tremblay)

Longmeadow Educational Excellence Foundation Gala Co-Chairpersons Jen Santos and Jen Cosgrove are surrounded by a display of items that will be up for auction at the event this year. (Photo by Hope E. Tremblay)

LONGMEADOW – The biggest party of the year is set for Nov. 2, and everyone is invited.
It’s the annual Longmeadow Educational Excellence Foundation (LEEF) Gala, and this year it has a new location and a new feel.
Gala Co-Chairs Jen Cosgrove and Jen Santos said the 12th annual event will be at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this year, with food by Max’s Catering.
The two women were excited last week as they spoke about the event.
“Any time you do something for 12 years, you always try to improve and update, and that’s what we did,” said Cosgrove.
The new venue is larger than in the past, opening up space for more participants.
“There’s some buzz about people coming that have not been to the gala in a long time, and from people who have never been before,” Cosgrove said. “It’s an excellent venue for Longmeadow’s biggest party of the year.”
While there will probably not be a free throw contest, the gala committee is playing off the Hall of Fame for this year’s theme: A Slam Dunk for Education.
The event will include live music from Longmeadow students and assistance from the high school Key Club members, as well as DJ Mark’s Entertainment and professional auctioneer Paul Scheer.
Gold Sponsors include Max Catering, Longmeadow Landscaping/Tree 413, St. Germain Investment Management, and Advanced Vein Care Center/Dr. K. Francis Lee.
“We have over 40 sponsors and 140 donors,” said Cosgrove. “We are fortunate to have a generous community.”
Donations for the live and silent auctions have generated some excitement this year, with getaways to Paris, Florida, Vermont, Maine, New York and Boston slated for auction.
Prime seats for New England sporting events are always a draw, and this year there are tickets to the Celtics, Patriots, Bruins and Red Sox for auction. A catered Super Bowl party for 25, catered BBQ for 12, party tour bus of Bright Nights with pizza party, Vino & Van Gogh Paint Scene painting party, jewelry, an autographed Tom Brady photo, and more highlight this year’s auction offerings.
New this year is the Buy It Now auction, which allows the very first bidder to win select items.
Cosgrove and Santos said the event is a fun night where old friends can catch up and new friends can be made, all for the best cause possible – the children of Longmeadow.
LEEF is quickly approaching the million dollar grant mark.
“This year, we will exceed that mark,” said Cosgrove.
Since 2002, 268 grants totaling $975,000 have been awarded to teachers in Longmeadow through LEEF.
Grants are used to fund educational programs and equipment not allowed in the budget. Grants benefit students at all grade levels throughout the district.
Tickets to the LEEF Gala are available in advance online at goleef.org. Cost is $70 per person through Sept. 1, and $75 through Oct. 25.