For several students, including Henry Altfillisch and Kate Van Nest, helping at the annual Ottumwa Athletic Club's Spaghetti Dinner is a tradition. Both OHS seniors have been involved throughout their high school careers. "I've done it every year," said Van Nest, who lettered in swim team and softball. This year’s dinner is Wednesday, April 5 from 5-7:30 p.m.
The event involves both students and parents. Each volunteer represents their respective sports. While seniors traditionally don't volunteer, both Altfillisch and Van Nest plan to help again this year.
For Altfillish, a letter winner in football, basketball, and tennis, he started attending spaghetti dinners when his oldest brother started playing high school sports eight years ago. He feels the event supports a good cause, with proceeds helping Ottumwa athletic teams. "It's nice to see all the people supporting Ottumwa athletics," he said.
And it's not just parents who attend, added Van Nest. "You see friends of athletes and families attend. It's fun, I get to talk to a bunch of people, although it is kinda hectic too."
Each district athlete is asked to sell five tickets prior to the dinner. Last year, the event raised over $5,000 and served over 800 meals.
Funds raised are often used as a bridge, according to A Club incoming president, Jaime Thomas. "The funds can be used in a lot of different ways to supplement expenses not budgeted by the district." Examples include transportation, uniforms, and equipment. "Middle school volleyball hadn't had new uniforms in a while," he said. "The new uniforms were part of last year's budget."
Thomas stressed that every middle and high school sport benefits from A Club's efforts. Twenty parents, representing each sport, are part of the monthly meeting process. As a group, funds are spent based on recommendations from the district's athletic director and parent/board input. "With two fundraisers a year, the goal is to always surpass the previous year's proceeds," he said.
The spaghetti is good, according to Van Nest. Hy-Vee donates all the food and the district's food service staff prepares it. The students also noted the quick service and the "to go" option if attendees don't want to eat in the cafeteria. "Some people just buy tickets but don't eat just to support athletics," said Altfillisch. “I want to thank the community for their continued support.”
"Come out and support it and know that the funds are being used to support Ottumwa youth athletics," said Thomas.