The annual Big Sky PTO Pie Auction on Feb. 10 exceeded last year’s fundraising efforts with gross proceeds totaling just over $105,000 for the Big Sky School District. This year’s sum came in second only after the 2007 event grossed $137,000.
In addition to digitizing the bidding platform online, organizers hosted the event at Rainbow Ranch Lodge and offered live, local entertainment in a refashioning of a tradition that started 38 years ago as a community bake sale.
“We knew it was a risk to make changes to an event that has a deep history,” said PTO President Callie Pecunies. “But we were thrilled to see that our idea of giving the event a makeover was even more successful than we could have hoped.”
There were 166 registered attendees at this year’s event, and proceeds make up the PTO’s entire annual budget. About $30,000 will go toward school ski programs, $10,000 to support the eighth-grade trip to Washington D.C., $8,000 for the fourth grade Expedition Yellowstone program and $4,000 to fund the spring musical. About $16,500 will go toward classroom supplies and field trips.
The district’s school ski program allows students K-8 to ski at Big Sky Resort three times each season and twice at Lone Mountain Ranch. Even with generous donations from the community, the program still demands approximately one third of the PTO’s annual budget.
Nearly 20 pies were donated for the event, a portion of which raised $3,600 in a live auction. Those remaining were distributed to tables based on how much money the diners pooled together as a direct donation for the ski program. This new twist on the bake sale raised $9,400 and the highest amount paid for a pie was $1,200.
The highest price paid for a live auction item was $6,000 for an autographed Tom Brady jersey and four tickets to a New England Patriots’ home game, while Red Sox tickets and four nights in a downtown Boston apartment sold for $2,900. During the silent auction, the highest bid went for a series of piano lessons with Big Sky teacher Klaudia Kosiak, selling for $1,500, closely followed by a $1,320 bid for the Big Sky Resort Rockstar Parking Pass.
Pecunies said the biggest surprise of the night came when an annual massage package at OZssage came up for bid during the live auction. When two bidders expressed interest in the item, the donor, Jacqui Rager, offered a second package to satisfy both. “It was incredibly generous of her to do that, and beneficial for the PTO financially.”