After spending last year in formation, the Tamaqua Blue Raider Foundation is now planning to begin its mission in earnest.

That's good news for the Tamaqua Area School District, which will benefit from the new foundation's efforts to support the district's educational endeavors.

The foundation was formally announced during the district's board of education meeting last November by its president, Robert A. Miller III and Michael W. Fegley, its treasurer.

The Blue Raider Foundation, Inc., has been established as a non-profit, tax exempt corporation under IRS 501(c)3. According to the foundation's mission statement, its objective is to assist Tamaqua Area in funding projects that are outside the school district's budget.

"Acting autonomously, the Foundation will enlist individuals, corporations and foundations in charitable resource raising activities to assist our students in achieving our maximum potential," mentions the mission statement.

The idea of charitable foundations to assist school districts is not a new one. Tamaqua Area School Board President Larry A. Wittig mentioned Blue Mountain's Eagle Foundation, as well as similar organizations working with Panther Valley and Northern Lehigh School Districts.

The Blue Raider Foundation is meant to supplement the district and not replace other fundraising organizations, such as athletic and band boosters. It is also not an affiliate of the school board or the district's administration but will operate independently of them.

"We are not affiliated with any booster club and we are operating outside of them," said Walter E. Kruczek, vice president of the Blue Raider Foundation. "There are no tax dollars involved. We are seeking individual and corporate funding to meet our ends and goals."

In addition to Miller, Kruczek and Fegley, the founding board members also include secretary Jeffery P. Bowe and member at large James P. Zigmant. The board meets on a monthly basis and is currently headquartered at 109 W. Broad Street, the law office of Bowe, Lisella and Bowe.

"Everyone involved with the foundation is a volunteer. There are no paid participants," said Kruczek.

Wittig and Tamaqua Area Superintendent Carol Makuta attended last month's meeting on Dec. 10, according to Kruczek, and discussions are under way as to how the Foundation can assist the district.

"We told them, this is what we'd like to do, and we asked them for a priority list," noted Kruczek.

While possible projects are being considered, some ideas that have come up include improving laboratory equipment, providing additional workbooks and possible teacher scholarships. Kruczek said any such plans are still in preliminary discussion stages.

The Foundation has announced its first official fundraiser, which will be a cocktail party at The Restaurant at The Station in Tamaqua's refurbished train station, which is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 20, from 7-10 p.m. More about the Foundation and its plans will be revealed that evening.

For ticket information, contact the Tamaqua Area Chamber of Commerce, the Beyrent Insurance Agency or Bowe, Lisella and Bowe.

"The cocktail party is open to the general public," mentioned Kruczek, who added this will only be the beginning of the Foundation's continued mission of support for Tamaqua Area and its students.