The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

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The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

Thank you very mulch: Inside the Booster Club’s top fundraiser

Hillevi Schine
Sophomore Alex Krouse and junior Elsa Santighian tape up ripped bags of mulch. Students separated into groups to complete different tasks of the sale.

Green shirts, black shirts and gray shirts etched with the words “WJ Mulch Sale” in the top left corner fill the stands of the Mad Cow student section at night and the hallways during the day. Students, parents and teachers participate in the mulch sale each year, in which the WJ Booster Club sells thousands of bags of mulch to residents of the local community. The fundraiser is the Booster Club’s largest of the year and usually nets between $30,000 and $34,000.

This year, the Booster Club sold 8,370 bags of mulch and delivered the bags to homes on March 15 and 16. The sale supports not only sports teams and facilities at WJ, but also many of the clubs and interest groups.

“The thing I think about the mulch sale that is really cool is it’s all the programs, not just athletics. The [National] Honors Society is there, all the parents come in to help … and everybody just comes together for a common task and that way, the programs here can be supported,” head football coach Aaron Fidler said.

In order to put together a sale as large as the mulch sale, the Booster Club begins planning about two months ahead. Ranging from ordering forklifts and working with the bulk supplier to managing the website and ordering t-shirts and food for volunteers, there are about 20 jobs that must be completed for the sale to run smoothly. Additionally, the Booster Club seeks out sponsors from local restaurants and businesses in order to cover the cost of t-shirts so that the cost of the shirts does not take away from the money earned from the mulch sale itself.

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“Every job has to be done in order for it to be successful. It’s not so much that one is more important than the other because if one doesn’t happen, it creates a whole chain of [problems],” Booster Club president Mary Bittle Koenick said.

Seniors Emma Lindsey, Alexa Steinberg, Hillevi Schine, Zoe Ottenritter and Rose Macdermott deliver mulch to a house. The WJ mulch sale is the schools’ biggest fundraiser. (Courtesy Cheryl Ottenritter)

Students can earn student service learning hours (SSL) from volunteering and shifts tend to be about three hours. Student sign-ups for the sale are released a few weeks in advance and done online through SignUpGenius. Students often coordinate with friends to work the same shift(s) as each other.

“I wanted to do it because I thought it was a good opportunity for SSL and also, all my friends were doing it, so I could basically get SSL hours to hang out with them,” junior Trinh Vu said.

The football team continued its tradition of spreading bags at customer’s homes. Each bag cost customers $7.50 without spreading and $12.50 with spreading.

“It’s a very fun experience. We load trucks with mulch bags and then we go deliver them to houses to be spread. It’s really fun doing it with your friends and teammates [and] everyone that was there was having a great time,” sophomore Eli Hotchkiss said.

Fiddler, who was hired last spring, volunteered at the mulch sale and mulch spreading as his first event after being hired and then participated again this year.

“It’s a lot of fun doing something that you normally don’t do on a daily basis. I got to drive a U-HAUL and drive a chase car this year. It was just a lot of fun interacting with everybody, not just members of the football team, people involved at WJ that I don’t get to [talk to] on a daily basis,” Fiddler said.

The online sign-up for each shift has space for 125 students and spots filled up quickly with the Friday night slot filling up over two weeks before the sale. Over 500 students from over 100 clubs participated this year.

“I think my favorite part of the mulch sale is how everyone there, no matter who, is helping each other out as a together team. It’s really cool to see everyone working together to achieve a goal despite each other’s differences,” Hotchkiss said.

Additionally, over 100 parents volunteered by driving U-HAULs, trucks and forklifts as well as by driving students to customers’ homes to deliver the mulch.

“One of the [pieces] of feedback that we get often from the parents who volunteer is that you’re not always with your own child, you often are not. … You just get a sense of what else is happening at WJ based on the kids that are in your car. So it’s a lot of fun to hear that banter, to hear everybody having fun, to hear the different clubs and teams and what they do,” Koenick said.

Student volunteers for the mulch sale take a break between deliveries. Food and snacks were provided to all those helping. (Hillevi Schine)

The Booster Club has provided funding to many teams and clubs this year ranging from Mock Trial and the South Asian Student Union to Science Olympiad and the football team.

“Most people associate boosters or a booster club with athletics and we are one of only four booster clubs in the county that support the whole school. No matter what club you are in, no matter what team you are on, no matter what performing arts you are doing, there’s something at WJ that will benefit you,” Koenick said.

Thursday night, between 10 and 12 trucks deliver the thousands of bags of mulch to the staff parking lot. Parents pick up the vehicles and items needed to begin the sale at 4 p.m. on Friday and by Saturday night, the sale is done and the parking lot is clear.

“It’s a lot of bags of mulch out there when you pull up on Friday and to see it get done in two days is really impressive,” Fiddler said.

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Joshua Singer
Joshua Singer, Print Editor-in-Chief
Joshua Singer is a junior and is ecstatic to be a Print Editor-in-Chief in his second full year on The Pitch. In his free time, Josh enjoys running, playing guitar and announcing sports.
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