By Maureen Callahan
With about 100 clubs and 36 athletic teams to support, Hinsdale Central’s Booster Club is one of the school’s most active parent organizations. Regardless of the size of any school’s activity budget, there are always extra items that aren’t covered. That’s where the Booster Club comes in.
“Wherever there is a gap in the school budget or a need for something not included in a particular group’s line items, the Boosters are there to help,” said President Robert Tonn. “It can be anything from a theater group that needs new stage lighting to a type of training equipment needed by a sports team that isn’t in their budgetary allocation.”
From the Robotics Club to the Basketball team, the needs of all student teams and organizations are considered. While some of the asks are relatively small, often, the groups have no other way to fund them. This is where Boosters comes in.
The Booster Club is an all-volunteer, parent-run organization. The Board of Directors steers the group of 10-12 board members, with scores of volunteers helping at every turn. “The club has grown because student needs and wish lists have grown,” said Tonn.
No student organization is ever turned away.
Over the past six years, the Boosters have raised $400,000 for student activities. Every dollar raised by this 501(c)3 organization returns to the school. There are three primary methods of fundraising. The first is through membership sales, which get buyers into school athletic events.
Spirit wear sales and indoor and outdoor concessions at athletic events make up the second and third tentacles of club fundraising. All proceeds are used to fund HC sports teams and extracurricular organizations.
“We support all clubs, activities, and sports teams,” said Tonn. “When you visit the concession stand at a football game, you’re not just supporting the football team, but all student organizations.”
All Booster Club board meetings are attended both by the Athletic and Activities Directors, which allows the board to keep a finger on the pulse of what is happening in student organizations and what is needed by the different groups. “It really is a good partnership,” said Tonn.
When a team or club has a need, the club’s coach or faculty advisor fills out an online grant application. The paperwork is then sent to the Boosters, along with an explanation of the needed item. “We ask groups and teams what they are doing for their own fundraising,” said Tonn.
“We hope to impose a good work ethic on our students. It teaches them that if they want something, they have to work for it, but we also offer the opportunity to do so.” Student groups are able to work at the concession stand at football games. The group is then paid for working, and the money goes toward that group’s request.
“We give to every group in the school,” said Tonn. “We make a concerted effort to split funds between sports and activities”.
Tonn relayed the need for committed board members- voluntary positions- to keep it running. He pointed out the cohesiveness of the group and the fun they have working at the various events. Many parents stay involved decades after their children have graduated.
But there is always a need for more dedicated volunteers. “We have several open board positions if anyone is looking for a place to give some time,” said Tonn. “We’ll always warmly welcome any new volunteers!”
“Boosters is an incredible support system for all our extracurriculars – not just athletics and not just financially,” said HC Student Activities Director Sally Phillips.
“The group helps message and support all our activities, whether plays, competitions, special events, or dances. Anywhere you find activities that keep students involved and connected to Hinsdale Central High School, you will also find the Boosters.” ■