GREENFIELD — For the majority of Cougar Cuisine vendors, a tasty display accompanied by mouth-watering aromas is enough to draw in the diners.
But when it came to attracting customers, Leianne Anthon had her work cut out for her at Greenfield-Central High School’s buffet-style fundraiser Saturday night.
The store manager of Greenfield Dairy Queen couldn’t set out too many Dilly Bars for fear of them melting, so she took to carnival-barking instead to draw attention to her booth.
“This is the perfect appetizer for any meal!” she called out to passing customers, waving an ice cream bar in each hand. “And then when you come back the second time, it’s a dessert!”
For the past nine years, the all-you-can-eat Cougar Cuisine has served as one of the school’s biggest fundraisers to support
student scholarships. It is held in conjunction with a silent auction put on by the senior class.
Saturday, the two-hour event featuring food and beverage samples from 16 local restaurants drew 429 people who sampled pizza, sushi, barbecue and more. The event raised a total of about $7,200 for G-C scholarships.
The funds are divided between the Greenfield-Central Athletic Booster Club, which organizes the buffet in the cafeteria, and the Senior Class Council, which leads the auction just outside.
The booster club offers various scholarships for athletes and also uses the funds to offset transportation costs for them. The senior class portion of the proceeds funds three memorial scholarships honoring former G-C students Zach Lett, Ben Culver and Todd Lewis.
Lett was a sophomore at G-C when he died in a car crash in February 2003. Lewis, a 2006 graduate, died the October after graduation after a long battle with cancer. Culver died in a car accident the same day he attended Lewis’ calling. He was a junior at G-C at the time.
For at least one attendee, Saturday’s event was bittersweet.
Kendall Frazier, 23, is a 2008 G-C grad who was in Culver’s class. He also played soccer with Lewis and considered both the young men close friends.
Frazier was on the senior class council in 2008 and helped organize the silent auction that year, and his father was president of the booster club.
Returning as a guest of the event Saturday brought back fond memories.
Frazier enjoys Cougar Cuisine because he said it tends to bring together a wider cross-section of people than the average G-C event.
And for Frazier, an Indiana University graduate who will start dental school in July, it’s a way of holding onto the memory of two good friends.
“I still think it has a lasting impact because both Ben and Todd were well-respected, well-liked, well-loved,” he said.
The fundraiser is in its ninth year and is always held in conjunction with a home basketball game in hopes of driving up attendance.
Organizers have come to learn which vendors they can count on to either bring food samples or offer up an item for auction.
Brent Oliver, a G-C teacher who also serves as senior class adviser, said past students compiled a binder of potential sources for donations. The binder is updated each year and left for the next class to use as a starting point.
“It’s kind of a well-oiled machine by now,” he said.
The event has a dual purpose for vendors; it allows them to support the community while also getting their products in front of potential customers.
Quizno’s owner Michael Wilson participated for the first time this year and said he hopes his booth served as a reminder to area residents that there’s more than one sub shop in town.
“I think people forget us,” said Wilson, whose samples included sandwiches and soup. “We don’t send out coupons like the Subways of the world.”
Wilson said he was happy to support the school, regardless of whether his participation gains him new patrons.
“If not, it’s going to a good cause,” he said.
Athletic Director Kevin Horrigan said he personally knows the families of all three the boys whose names appear on the senior class council scholarships and is glad to see G-C do something to honor their memories.
“We just couldn’t be prouder of the kids, what they do to continue and sustain those scholarships,” he said.
Senior class council member Carolyn Voight, 17, said that while many in her class are too young to have known Lett, Lewis or Culver, the students’ memories are still very much alive in the community.
When Voigt called on Dragon Palace, a local Chinese restaurant, for a donation to the silent auction, the owners responded immediately because of a personal connection to the cause.
“Their sons knew them, and as soon as we said their names … they went, ‘Here’s a $50 gift card,’” she said. “It was really sweet.”