Fundraiser bears new name but same great cause

‘Northern Stars Celebration’ to raise funds for students

Anoka-Hennepin Educational Foundation (AHEF) Northern Stars Celebration co-chairs Ann Sievers (left) and Sheryl Carlson (right) say everyone is welcome to attend the Oct. 13 fundraising event to support Anoka-Hennepin students.
Anoka-Hennepin Educational Foundation (AHEF) Northern Stars Celebration co-chairs Ann Sievers (left) and Sheryl Carlson (right) say everyone is welcome to attend the Oct. 13 fundraising event to support Anoka-Hennepin students.

For almost 20 years, Anoka-Hennepin Educational Foundation’s (AHEF) major fundraising event was known as the “Northern Stars Ball.” In an effort to better reflect the event, and hopefully attract more people, organizers have changed the name to “Northern Stars Celebration.” The event will be held Oct. 13 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis.

Event co- chairs Ann Sievers and Sheryl Carlson said the event committee thought the word “ball” made it sound more formal. While in the past the event did feature a dance, that’s no longer the case.

“We heard that some people hesitated coming to the event because they didn’t know how to dance,” Sievers said.

“We’ve gotten away from that in the last five to six years,” Carlson said. “It’s really just a celebration and we want everyone to feel comfortable and welcome.”

Proceeds from the Northern Stars Celebration will be used for grants for students for: early childhood education, talent development, and career and college readiness. A special “giving moment” during the event, where people can make special financial donations, will be used for students in early childhood education programming. A 501(c)3, since 1994, AHEF has distributed more than $2 million to enrich students’ educational experience.

“We want to raise money for access to and opportunities in the district’s early childhood education programs,” Sievers said. “More scholarships would provide access to more students and providing more educational items in the classroom will give children opportunities they might not have at home. Providing educational experiences for students at a young age helps level the playing field for them for when they enter kindergarten.”

While dancing is no longer on the night’s agenda, it includes a sit-down dinner, wonderful silent and live auction items and student performances. A raffle will be held with prizes of $50, $100 and $500. This year’s Northern Stars Celebration will feature students from Blaine High School’s music department. Attendees will also see a video highlighting the needs of Anoka-Hennepin’s early education program.

Sievers and Carlson have been volunteers with AHEF for a number of years and are members of the organization’s board of directors. Sievers, of Brooklyn Park, has chaired the fall event for three years. Carlson, of Ramsey, has served as the silent auction chair.

“I was involved with the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) when my kids were young and then switched over to the Parent Legislative Team,” Sievers said. “I thought going to the Capitol wasn’t as much fun as fundraising, so I got involved with AHEF. The Northern Stars Celebration is one of AHEF’s biggest fundraisers. I started volunteering on the reservation side of things and eventually became the chair. We have a really good team of people.”

“I work at Community Bank, and Barb Winfield [the former AHEF executive director] asked me to help out with AHEF,” Carlson said. “I was asked to go to a Northern Stars Ball meeting and I just loved it. It’s really a great fundraiser.”

Not only does the event provide an opportunity to raise money for students, it’s a great place for people from the school district to meet and get to know each other.

“I’ve been to other fundraisers and it’s a lot different,” Carlson said. “It’s just such a warm environment. And people are there for a great purpose, to raise money to help students in the Anoka-Hennepin School District. It’s a lot of fun and it truly impacts students.”

Both women said everyone is welcome to attend the event because it’s a fun evening out with friends and co-workers. They would love to see more parents attend the Northern Stars Celebration.

“The more money we raise, the more money we have to give out in grants,” Sievers said. “AHEF would love to give bigger grants; that’s what we are striving for.”

 If you go…

Tickets are $75 each, $40 of which is tax deductible. Tables of eight are available for $600. Ticket reservations are being taken now online at or by stopping in the AHEF office located in the new Education Services Center, 2727 Ferry St. N, Anoka.