The Tamaqua Blue Raider Foundation is off to a good start.

The foundation held its kickoff reception Saturday evening at The Restaurant at The Station, Tamaqua, with over 100 in attendance.

"We sold out, and we're thrilled. It's absolutely a success," said Walter E. Kruczek, vice president of the non-profit foundation, which was created to support the Tamaqua Area School District. "People have commented that this is long overdue and it's a great thing for the school district."

The kickoff also served as an inaugural fundraiser for the foundation. "We had some generous donations from people who came, and even from some that couldn't make it," noted Kruczek.

According to its mission statement, the foundation has been privately established to assist the district in funding projects that are outside the district's budget.

The foundation, which was officially announced at the Tamaqua Area Board of Education's November, 2009 meeting, will act autonomously to enlist individuals, corporations and other foundations in charitable fundraising activities to assist the district's students in achieving their maximum potential.

Robert A. Miller III, former president of J.E. Morgan Knitting Mills, Hometown, is serving a president of the Raider Foundation board of directors. Miller welcomed the crowd at the reception and recognized board members Kruczek, treasurer Michael W. Fegley, secretary Jeffrey P. Bowe and trustee James R. Zigmant.

Miller also thanked Mauch Chunk Trust Company for sponsoring the reception and Nick Zigmant, branch executive of the Tamaqua YMCA, for assisting with the audio-visual presentation, which included a slide show of images of the school district.

Miller noted that Tamaqua Area students and staff provided creative help by designing logos and brochures for the foundation.

"Yes, we involved the students from the start," said Miller. "This foundation is as much theirs as the community's. The whole scope of this endeavor is to assist in providing the children of the Tamaqua school system the tools needed to learn and grow through their years of education.

"We want them to be viewed as assets to the local business community upon graduation, and assets to the institutions of higher learning. Either way, they become an investment in the future of our community and its industry.

"Our students are products of us, and they learn and experience from us. The environment that surrounds them is the environment that influences them and sets the pathway for the future. Tamaqua's commerce now and in the future depends on the molding of their education. We need the graduates to stay, we need them to return after their higher education. We need their ideas, their entrepreneurship and their youth to grow this community," added Miller.

Miller noted the foundation operates as a 501(c)3, tax free charitable organization, and while it acts independently from the school district, it enlists its counsel in the expenditure of funds. It is also not affiliated with the district or booster clubs such as those for the Raider Band or for spots teams.

Tamaqua Area School Board President Larry A. Wittig said the foundation has been an idea that has been in the works for about five years as research was done into the best ways to go about its formation.

"It was designed to be separate from the school district," Wittig said. "It's a great way for the community to help education. If people want to direct their donations, it won't go into that general budget black hole. It will allow someone to leave a legacy in perpetuity for specific educational endeavors."

"I'm impressed with the support we've had from the community so far," said Tamaqua Area Superintendent Carol Makuta. "Our district is looking forward to recommending some projects that will benefit our students in the future."

Miller issued an invitation for anyone interested to become part of the undertaking to provide the tools needed to enhance the school system and inspire its youth.

"If they believe in us and we can keep them, they in turn will lead and motivate the Tamaqua community," stated Miller.

For contact the Blue Raider Foundation, phone (570) 668-1241 or email blueraiderfoundation@gmail.com [1].