By JAMES BELL
It may only be mid-summer, but the Hays Chamber is already preparing for its annual celebration of area educators.
The Education Appreciation dinner is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 30 at the Rose Garden Banquet Hall, 2350 E. Eighth.
But for those looking to get involved in the event, now is the time, said Hays Chamber President and CEO Sarah Wasinger.
"Timing is of the essence for this event, just because we do have to put a few things together to be ready for that day," she said. "So if your business is interested in being a sponsor for the upcoming event, we would love to sit down and visit with you either at the Chamber office or come to your location and talk to you about what that all looks like. "
She said they hope to have details finalized by the end of July.
"We want to have all that prep material and content ready for the night of the event, as well as give you some time to pick you out if you want to include any items in the swag bag," Wasinger said. "As we know, things delivering on time doesn't always happen nowadays, some delays from supply chain issues. So we want to make sure there's plenty of time for you to be happy with how that all turns out."
The Chamber works with sponsors to ensure their contribution is visible during the event.
"We find different ways to feature businesses and our sponsors," Wasinger said. "So depending on which level of membership you have, we invite some of those sponsors to attend the event, we do feature our higher level our premier sponsors, that's an investment of $700, and that would include a 30-second commercial that would be shared within the event."
She said the sponsorship is a way to introduce a business or service to the education community.
"We have three different levels of sponsorship for people to take advantage of if they want to be a part of the event," Wasinger said, adding new sponsors are always welcome.
Booth spaces are available as well as "a good way to mingle with the folks who are attending," she said.
"And then we also have different ways on social media that will be advertising the event as well, as well as on our digital newsletter for the chamber, and kind of some of our invitations that will go out, we'll be featuring our sponsors, so lots of great visibility, but really just a chance to say thank you to the great work that they do," Wasinger said.
While the Chamber and the event sponsors come together for those educators that want to attend, the only thing to do for now is to save the date.
"We will be working with the administrators from each of the different school sections to kind of collect RSVPs with us," Wasinger said. "More details will be coming. If for any reason they don't see that information ahead, they can definitely feel free to contact the Chamber and let us know that they would plan to attend that night."
She said the RSVPs are needed to complete an accurate meal count, and as they come in, the Chamber will keep a master list of attendees from across the county.
"This event is for all Ellis County educators, and not just Hays," Wasinger said. "We have Hays, Catholic schools, Hays public schools, obviously, Victoria and Ellis have their public school systems too. And then, of course, we have St. Mary's over in Ellis. We also include Fort Hays State University and NCK Tech, as well as Hays Academy of Hair Design. ... We want all the educators who have added touch points on our children's or students lives to come celebrate that evening with us."
Along with the dinner, the first 150 attendees will also receive assorted items from the sponsors.
"Then we just give them time to sit together and socialize, and maybe get to see friends that they haven't seen over the summer, or introduce themselves as well to the new educators," Wasinger said. "This is kind of a formal event, you don't have to dress up fancy, but we want to give people all the different superintendents or principals a chance to introduce their new staff that are in attendance."
But most importantly, she said they hope they can share their full appreciation of their work with the educators.
"There's no greater gift than being able to open up someone's mind to help them realize their capabilities," Wasinger said. "That's not an easy job, and there's a lot that goes into that. So that's the purpose behind education appreciation is to just have a night where we can say thank you for everything that you do. And it's really just a great way for our business community to rally around our area's educators."