La Jolla Art and Wine Festival helping schools create needed programs

La Jolla Art and Wine Festival to be held Oct. 13

LA JOLLA, Calif. - Many parents and schools -- including one in La Jolla -- are getting creative to make up for budget cuts.

On Friday morning at La Jolla Elementary School, fifth graders are bending, twisting and shaping wire and metal into small sculptures.

"I like art because you can be creative, you can do whatever you really want," explained 10-year-old Paxton Stolper.

The students wouldn't be able to create are in class at all if it weren't, in part, for another creative endeavor -- the La Jolla Art and Wine Festival.

"We have art, music, technology and library that wouldn't exist without the funds that we fundraise for every year," said La Jolla Elementary School Principal Donna Tripi.

All proceeds from the annual festival go to one middle school and three elementary schools in La Jolla.

The way the fundraiser works is each school invests $30,000 up front to put the festival on, but by the end, they each get back their $30,000, plus up to $25,000 more.

"I wanted to help the community, and at the same time I wanted to help the kids," said parent Sherry Ahern, who is the driving force behind the four-year-old festival.

Asked if she was ever afraid she wouldn't be able to pay the schools back, Ahern said, "That's always in the back of your mind, but if you've got the right idea and the right people helping in the right town, I think you know deep down that you're going to be successful enough to pay them back."

This year's festival is twice as big as last year's, with more than 165 artists, 300 booths and a new location on Girard Avenue.

Ahern said anyone who thinks La Jolla is too wealthy to need fundraisers is wrong.

"A lot of kids get bussed in and not all the families of these kids are wealthy," said Ahern. "We wouldn't be giving the money to these schools if they didn't need it."

The creative fundraiser is a lesson for the kids to see how to shape harsh reality into something special.

The festival is free with donations encouraged. It will take place the weekend of Oct. 13.

For more information on the festival, visit http://www.ljawf.com

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