Ryan McDonald

With fundraiser cancelled due coronavirus, Hermosa Beach Education Foundation launches online auction

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Celebrants gather under the tent at Hearts of Hermosa in 2017. Photo by Deidre Davidson

by Ryan McDonald

The novel coronavirus may have brought down “Mom Prom,” the winking nickname of highly anticipated Hearts of Hermosa fundraiser.  But it hasn’t removed the need for donations that the event, the largest single source of support each year for the Hermosa Beach Education Foundation, facilitates.

Instead, an online auction to support programming in Hermosa schools went live this morning, and will run through March 28. Items available include rides on the Goodyear Blimp, tickets to the filming of the Jimmy Kimmel Show, as well as works by local artists and gift cards from local restaurants.

Organizers said that they hoped that, along with providing revenue for the district, bidding on the auction items is a way to support area businesses affected by the coronavirus-related economic downturn.

HBEF was looking for a way to support local businesses in the community that have always supported this organization. Whether that’s items, evenings out, restaurant gift certificates: those continue to support those bizes. We’re promoting them in a more socially responsible way,” HBEF Board Member Jonalyn Morris said last week.

Hearts of Hermosa had been set to take place Saturday evening, in a temporary tent in the parking lot of the Hermosa Community Center, but HBEF announced March 12 that it would be cancelled in order to limit the spread of the virus. The event typically includes prepared food and drinks from local restaurants, a DJ and a dancefloor. The prospect of hundreds of Hermosans in close proximity was considered too risky, and subsequent guidance from state and county health officials limiting large gatherings would have made the event impossible regardless.

Along with providing an opportunity for socializing, the party is an opportunity to raise money for the education foundation, which then passes it on to Hermosa’s district. Under state formulas, the Hermosa Beach City School District is among the lowest-funded in California, and money from the education foundation supports programs like music instruction and the Sparks/Idea Lab.

At the time the closure was announced, the event was approximately 90 percent sold out. While refunds were available, organizers have been asking those who bought tickets to donate the money to the organization. Last year, the event raised about $275,000 of the nearly $1 million the foundation provided to the district. Most of the money the event raises, however, comes from the auction, rather than ticket sales. 

The items up for auction have been adjusted to take account for changes wrought by the coronavirus, Morris said. Sporting events and concerts, for example, are out. In are photos from Bo Bridges, art projects from students in Hermosa’s schools, and a vintage Pacific Coast Highway street sign given by the city. To place a bid and see a complete list of items, go to: hoh2020.givesmart.com.

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