The Harlingen Area Educational Foundation raised more than $117,000 at its annual fundraiser held in March. The funds are distributed as grants and scholarships to teachers, schools, and students in support of education and the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District.
For the past three years, the foundation has raised money for the educational grants and scholarships by holding a fundraiser in collaboration with special guests. This year’s special guests included Linda Burke of Burke Children’s Dentistry in Harlingen as well as longtime educator and community philanthropist Lupita Muñiz.
Burke and Muñiz teamed up with HCISD Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos in a friendly competition. That competition included challenging each other to raise money.
“We all collaborated because the final goal is the same,” said Muñiz who taught elementary students for 30 years before retiring from Harlingen CISD. “We know that the money we raise individuals is going to go to students and teachers. It’s very important that there be funding for scholarships and teachers to work on innovative projects. The community came together to show its strong support for our schools and school district.”
Business and individual supporters made donations in support of the foundation’s mission to provide support to teachers, students, and staff.
“In Harlingen, we support each other and everyone ends up winning. Most importantly the children benefit from us working together towards a common goal,” said.
Muñiz is particularly grateful for the multi-generational support of Harlingen schools.
The annual event was held at Stefano’s restaurant, which donated food and soft drinks, allowing the foundation to bring in even more funding for students and teachers.
“I am proud to work with a group of community professionals that really care about our students, school district, our educators and our superintendent,” said Belinda Zapata, owner of Farmers Insurance Agency and the president of the foundation’s board. “HAEF works tirelessly in support of the entire district. We have members who are business owners, bankers, attorneys, and everything we do is to help the district, superintendent, and the district’s senior team accomplish their goals for each school year.”
The event was chaired by Maru De La Paz.
“We would have been happy with $60,000 raised, and when we heard we raised over $117,000, we were over the moon,” Zapata said.
In the near future, the funds raised will be distributed to students and staff who qualify for scholarships and innovative teaching grants. Last year, HAEF awarded innovating teaching grants to projects such as a Life Skills wheelchair swing for Sam Houston Elementary, Heating Ventilation, and Air Conditioning equipment for Harlingen High School and Harlingen High School South, and funding for sensory rooms at Sam Houston Elementary, Rodriguez Elementary, Milam Elementary, Long Elementary, Zavala Elementary, among other major projects.
“There is truly a sense of unity in our community, which makes it such a happy place to work. I am very proud of everything that’s happening in our school district and our community,” said Muñiz.