In February, hundreds of dollars were raised for various Freedom High sports teams by special weeknight fundraisers at three restaurants It’s a program that will continue later this month and in May at those and other eateries.
“I was contacted by Charley’s Subs in Brentwood, Wing Stop in Brentwood and Chicago Uno Pizzeria in Antioch simultaneously,” said Steve Amaro, Freedom High Athletic Director. “They all said they want to do something for athletics and wanted to have a night where anybody who came for that specific sport they would donate 10 percent of the profit back to the program.
“It worked out well for the businesses, and it worked out well for us. It ranged from as little as $50 for some teams to over $300 for others. Although those numbers might not seem to be extraordinarily spectacular, they are a tremendous help. With the way the state budget is coming down and affecting athletic programs, we were able to keep relatively fiscally solvent.”
Also participating in the sports fundraiser is Black Bear Diner, which held a night for the Freedom baseball team a couple weeks ago and plans one for the water polo team on May 7. Black Bear also does fundraising nights for charities, such as the one held Monday night for the Relay for Life.
“It brings in more people to check out the place that haven’t been here before,” said Black Bear Manager Brody Jackson. “If they like the food, atmosphere and restaurant, they will come back and we’ll have repeat business. All business is good business. Anyone who wants a fundraiser, give us a call. We can accommodate anything.”
Black Bear Diner’s number is 925-625-3555.
Most high school sports programs need about $100,000 each year to do it right, according to Amaro. Freedom makes do with about two-thirds of that by cobbling together $25,000-$30,000 from school district funding, $20,000 from football game ticket sales and $15,000 from an annual golf tournament along with booster club donations and fundraisers.
The money goes for things such as transportation (it costs $500 to bus just team from Freedom in Oakley to Liberty High in Brentwood), uniforms, equipment, league dues, coach stipends, referee/umpire pay and major expenses such as scoreboard and PA system upgrades.
Anyone is welcome to donate – with the one caveat that whatever is given to a boys team must be matched or shared equally with a girls team, due to Title 9 regulations and a general sense of fairness. “The one thing I am really proud of at Freedom is that we do treat our athletes equally,” said Amaro.
While athletics can be expensive, it’s money well spent for the approximately 500 student athletes out of Freedom’s 2,400-student body, as far as Amaro is concerned. He’s working on a doctorate dealing with the benefits of athletics for students.
“It helps you build character and deal with issues that you don’t necessarily see in a high school classroom,” he said. “We make sure the focus is always educational athletics. We need to supplement what’s going on in the classroom.”
To keep track of upcoming Freedom sports fundraisers, go online to www.highschoolsports.net and scroll down to Announcements.
“As challenging as this time is for education, I think it’s also tremendously exciting,” said Amaro. “Because this is when all of the great ideas come out and the people of the communities rally around what they feel is important. I have always been proud to be a part of the Freedom community.”