The Event: annual fundraiser for McGaugh Elementary Arts and Technology Programs this week


After being cancelled in 2020 and going virtual in 2021, the annual fundraiser supporting McGaugh Elementary school’s arts and technology programs is being held in-person on April 8.

For nearly 30 years, Project SEEK, a volunteer-run McGaugh-based nonprofit, has put on The Event, as the gala is called, as its biggest yearly fundraiser. The money raised through the gala and connected auction provides the biggest infusion of funds to pay for the three teachers, and supplies, that provide vital arts and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs to students at the only public school in Seal Beach.

“We are so excited to be able to have The Event in-person again this year after a two-year hiatus,” Project SEEK President and McGaugh parent Claudia Vecchio Wille wrote in a statement.

This year’s gala is reprising the “Roaring 20s” theme, carried over from The Event originally scheduled for Friday, March 13, 2020. That ended up being the day the coronavirus pandemic shut down local schools, forcing the gala to be cancelled.

For the past two years, Project SEEK volunteers have had to be creative to meet fundraising goals through lockdowns and restrictions. In 2021, they hosted The Event live online for a 100% virtual gala that featured McGaugh Principal Issaic Gates, teachers, parents and staff.

“Throughout the pandemic, Project SEEK volunteers worked hard to virtually shine a light on the important learning that students do in our Art Lab, STEM Lab, and Computer/Media Lab and our Seal Beach community stepped up, helping us raise over $92,000,” Wille said. “We are tremendously grateful for the support we received throughout the pandemic to help continue these programs at McGaugh.”

This year, as coronavirus restrictions have eased, parents have been able to volunteer in those labs again. They’ve witnessed the important lessons children experience, seeing firsthand what Project SEEK, in partnership with the Los Alamitos Education Foundation, provides for the McGaugh community.

Wille stressed that these Project SEEK-funded programs help children develop problem-solving skills that can apply to other educational pursuits.

“They help children have confidence to try reading and math when those subjects feel extra hard, because they have experienced success in art and STEM and computer sciences,” she said.

This year’s gala will take place outdoors at On the Greens at the Navy Golf Course in Cypress. Bidding is already taking place through the online auction at and features some amazing items generously donated by the community and local businesses. Project SEEK hopes to raise funds that total close to their pre-pandemic gala of around $130,000.

Project SEEK would like to thank its sponsors: FreshCut Creative, Ferguson Realty, The Nichols Family, Beach City Jewelers, Allied Refrigeration, The Pardasani Family, Automotive Excellence, The Foil Shop, Aloha Workforce Management Solutions, US Bank, Seal Beach DOJO by Leo Vieira, The Sun Newspaper, and It Takes a Village Senior Care Referral Agency, and other community businesses and families as well as all of the invaluable Project SEEK volunteers.

The Event: annual fundraiser for McGaugh Elementary Arts and Technology Programs this week