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Gourds add color to Kerr Elementary fundraiser

Tawnya Panizzi
| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 7:21 p.m.
Students Sophia Tai and John Rehak make finishing touches on painted gourds that will be sold at Kerr Elementary School fundraiser.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Students Sophia Tai and John Rehak make finishing touches on painted gourds that will be sold at Kerr Elementary School fundraiser.

Kerr PTA members are betting on gourds from the school garden to help grow extra cash for student activities.

Each of the 20 classes at the Fox Chapel Area elementary school designed and hand-painted a gourd to auction during the annual PTA fundraiser.

The event will be from 6 to 10 p.m. May 16 at Narcisi Winery in Gibsonia. Cost is $45 per ticket and includes hors d'oeuvres, pasta bar and a glass of wine. There will be a cash bar, raffles and live music.

“We wanted to showcase the garden and the kids' art as a way to help raise money,” said Joanne Germanos, who for years has coordinated a student-run garden at the school along Kittanning Pike.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will help pay for field trips, assemblies and on-site educational programs.

Germanos said that, like the school garden, the gourd project engaged the entire student body.

“It was fun to paint them because ours had bugs and butterflies on it,” said kindergartner Sophia Tai, 5.

Her class used red paint to make tiny ladybugs that appeared to be crawling around the gourd.

“We got to use our thumbprints to make the bugs,” said classmate John Rehak, 7.

Other gourds were decorated with orange Koi fish, red strawberries and snowmen. Some resembled patchwork quilts and others struck a modern chord with geometric shapes.

“I think parents will enjoy buying something that the kids made,” said event coordinator Becky McCormick. “We drilled some of them to be used as birdhouses. Others, people might find fun to just have them hanging around.”

The gourds are weather-safe, she said, and can be used on back porches or hung from trees.

They will be displayed at school until the fundraiser so that anyone interested can pre-bid.

McCormick said student council members created a few special gourds to remain in the school's garden. They'll hang above vegetables grown there including corn, beans, radishes and squash. Herbs and strawberries also are in the garden.

Students regularly tend to the parcel, weeding and watering it during and after school. At the end of the season, they harvest the fruits and vegetables for use in the cafeteria and for donation to the local food bank.

“We make a strawberry basil salad and last year, we made bruschetta and fig jam,” McCormick said. “The gourd auction is a nice way to bring together the garden and the community effort to raise money for our school. The kids watched the gourds grow, and now they'll be used to support activities.”

To purchase tickets for the PTA fundraiser, call 412-781-4105.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or

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