For many students, a class field trip is the most anticipated event of the year.

In Ventnor, a small group of parents, teachers and merchants works to make sure all the students of the Ventnor Educational Community Complex get to take at least one field trip per year to an amusement park or the zoo and pay for assemblies. They're called the Home and School Association.

They organize Chinese auctions, movie nights and poinsettia sales to raise funds. They line up in the cold and wind to unload truckloads of catalog items for distribution.

"The Ventnor Home and School Association is a cooperative nonprofit organization that supports our students through organization, volunteering and fundraising efforts, which provide educational opportunities that will complement the school's curriculum," said Kelly Winesickle, treasurer of the group and a first-grade teacher at the school.

Winesickle has no children of her own. She jokes that she got "sucked in" several years ago when she volunteered to baby sit for parents during movie night. "It started out a fabulous idea," she recalled. "Except by the end, there was popcorn everywhere."

Now, she helps by offering her classroom for monthly meetings - at 7 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month - and helping coordinate projects such as the cookbook sale. Parents, teachers and other supporters contributed more than 100 pages' worth of recipes for the book, which also offers 12 pages of nutrition and diet information using charts and diagrams. Copies cost $10 and are available at the school.

Donna Peterson, mother of a fifth grader at the school, is on the cookbook committee as well as the safety committee, with Ventnor police Lt. John Wood and HSA President Lori Nolan, an Atlantic City police detective.

At a recent meeting, members discussed bicycle safety and "the parking lot issue." Many students live within two miles of the school, so the parking lot often is crowded with parents' vehicles and the traffic spills out onto Lafayette Avenue and other streets. And how does one convince young kids to wear a bicycle helmet every day for their commute to and from school, and to watch out for black ice?

"Once you're in, you can't get out," said Aiccis Bloom, the group's recording secretary and the mother of a fourth- and a seventh-grader at the school.

And the group needs more volunteers to help raise about $27,000 annually. Those funds pay for all class trips and assemblies, for talent shows and dances and eighth-grade graduation.

The group's next big fundraiser is April 16's "Tricky Tray," a Chinese auction to be held at the school. The event, along with the fall Cherrydale catalog sale, is expected to bring in a large portion of the total funds needed for the 2011-12 school year.

Donations of goods and services to be auctioned off still are needed, as well as volunteers to help coordinate and run monthly events, including bingo Feb. 11 and movie night, March 25. The next meeting is Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. For more information, see www.vecc.altnet.org and click on the tab for Home and School association. Or send an email to kwinesickle@veccnj.org.

Contact Felicia Compian:

609-272-7209