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On the Beach: Annual Octifest to raise funds for youth outreach, programming

February 21, 2018
By TIFFANY REPECKI ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The Sanibel Sea School is getting ready for its major fundraiser, which supports outreach programs for at-risk landlocked youth, a scholarship program and its newest addition - free camps on holidays.

Marking its 12th year, the annual Octifest on the Beach will take place on March 11 at 6:30 p.m. on Island A at the Causeway Islands. Tickets are $150 each, and about 230 people attended last year.

"It's our big annual fundraiser," Chrissy Basturk, development coordinator for the group, said.

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The sun sets over last year's fundraiser, with a world-class telescope in the background. One of this year's live auction items is a star gazing event with Robert Hunt, owner of the company BIG PUPILS.

"It provides the largest amount of funding," she added.

The proceeds raised help fund outreach programs organized in partnership with the Pine Manor Improvement Association, Gladiolus Learning and Development Center, The Heights Foundation, PACE Center for Girls and more. The programs aim to build confidence and educate the youths.

"It also goes into scholarship funds for our day-to-day kids and campers," Basturk said.

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In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, the school organized a free Hurricane Camp for parents whose children were out of school. Due to the great response from the community, it decided to begin offering camps on no-school days, like holidays. The first was held on Jan. 15, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

"We realized that there was a need for free days like that for the kids," she said.

"The funds will help us expand and subsidize the offerings," Basturk added.

At last year's event, a video of the different programming was shown for the first time.

"A lot of people didn't know we worked with landlocked kids. People were really touched," she said. "We raised enough money (at the fundraiser) to cover all of the groups we worked with last year."

The evening will kick off with a cocktail hour and silent auction.

There will be about two dozen items available to bid on.

"Ranging from artwork and day spa packages, to Disney passes and some jewelry," Basturk said, adding that there will also be themed baskets donated by local on-island businesses.

"We'll do some packages that are Sea School related," she said. "They're usually fun experiences and things like that that people seem to like."

Dinner will follow, served up by Webster's Catering.

Executive Director Bruce Neill will talk about what happened last year.

"And what we look forward to accomplishing in the next year," Basturk said.

There is also some island-related trivia planned.

"To get everybody engaged and have a little fun," she said.

Next is the live auction, featuring part-time Sanibel resident Victor Mayeron as the auctioneer.

Basturk explained that there are typically about five items up for grabs.

"We usually have a Sea School pub crawl, which has been fun in the past," she said. "We have a star gazing event planned with Robert Hunt."

Hunt is the owner of the company BIG PUPILS, which utilizes world-class telescopes.

Congress Jewelers also donated a piece for the fundraiser.

"We do have a deejay for the evening," Basturk said.

To purchase tickets, call 239-472-8585 or visit

The community is encouraged to check it out.

"People that come really get to see and feel what we do here at the Sanibel Sea School and that they really do make a difference in these kids' lives," she said.

The Causeway Islands is at 19931 Sanibel Causeway, Sanibel.



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