EAST LONGMEADOW — Are you ready to eat, drink and dance the night away while raising money to help educate East Longmeadow students? On Feb. 10, the East Longmeadow Educational Endowment Fund will host its annual gala at the Starting Gate and GreatHorse in Hampden.

ELEEF, a nonprofit, has been providing grants for East Longmeadow Public Schools educators for nearly 30 years. Brendan Greeley, president of the Board of Directors for ELEEF, explained that the endowment funds equipment and programs that are not in the school department’s annual budget. Each year, the endowment gives approximately $50,000 in grants to educators.

Programs and purchases supported by ELEEF grants have included robotics and music theory programs; library resources; computers software, smart boards and iPad learning labs; microscopes and telescopes; a 3D printer; and chemistry, biology and TV studio equipment.

Teachers and other educators may apply for grants at any point during the year, but May 31 is the deadline to apply for grants distributed this year. In the past, the organization distributed half of the funds it raised as grants for educators, with the other half deposited to grow the endowment. Greeley said that a few years ago, the endowment reached the $1 million mark, allowing ELEEF to distribute 100% of the annual funds it raises.

The gala is the organization’s largest fundraiser, although it also hosts a celebrity bartending event in May and the Spartan Sprint in September. Greeley said the gala is “very well attended” and with about 350 guests, tickets sell out each year.

The 2024 gala will begin at 6 p.m. The evening will include a cocktail hour with entertainment by singer Jeffrey Thomas, followed by dinner and dancing with music from Nino’s DJ Service.

Tickets are $175 each. Tables for 10 and 12 are available. Sponsors are welcome and ELEEF accepts “any kind of donation” with donation boxes throughout the room, Greeley said, adding, “Anything people want to give. We’ll take $5.”

In the organization’s next 30 years, Greeley said, “We need to establish more ways of raising funds. Our objective does not change. What do the students need? How can we be helpful to teachers?”

The Starting Gate at GreatHorse is at 128 Wilbraham Rd., Hampden. To purchase tickets or learn more about ELEEF’s mission, visit eleef.org/events/winter-gala.

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