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A former Spring Grove student-turned-entrepreneur partnered with the high school this fall to offer a unique fundraiser.

Rob Weaver, owner of Black Squirrel Primitives, decided to work with Spring Grove High School after his new sales representative, Sera Kefauver, suggested it three months ago. Black Squirrel Primitives offered handmade signs as a fundraiser for any groups at the school that were interested. The  business even makes Spring Grove-specific signs.

"Everyone gets tired of wrapping paper and pizza and cookies, and his business is local," Kefauver explained. She told Weaver he should work with high schools and other organizations to sell his custom-made signs. Because he attended Spring Grove, he wanted to start there.

Black Squirrel Primitives produces more than signs. The family-owned and -operated business sells all types of rustic decor, all of which costs less than $20 and ships  throughout the world. Weaver said his signs are unique because he stencils each piece, while other businesses that produce similar products will use a machine.

This makes the items perfect for a fundraiser, because Weaver can create special signs for all types of organizations. Spring Grove's signs included saying such as "Go Rockets" and "Spring Grove Rockets," but there were other signs that read "Family is forever" and "More coffee."

Local support: When Spring Grove's community relations coordinator Lisa Smith heard about the idea, she loved it. She said the district always tries to buy from and work with local businesses because they are supportive of the schools through their taxes and hard work.

"Local businesses and the small businesses (are) the life-blood of the school," Smith said. "That’s how public schools are funded, so if we are living on that tax base, it’s important that we support that part of our community by supporting those businesses."

A percentage of each sale goes to the organization doing the fundraising through Black Squirrel Primitives. Weaver said he and Kefauver are still working out the specific percentages for other school districts because this idea is new, but the alumnus gave Spring Grove  a special deal. Overall, students sold close to $1,950, but Smith was unsure exactly how much the students had raised.

This amount was divided evenly among a number of clubs and organizations that participated in the fundraiser, including the freshman and sophomore classes, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), the Future Farmers Club and the Drama Troupe.

Coming up: Though the fundraiser ended  Nov. 18, Weaver and Kefauver have already been looking to expand the initiative to other schools and local organizations. Kefauver said she has met with 4-H clubs and Girl Scouts. They will also return to Spring Grove as a fundraiser for students in kindergarten through eighth grade this spring.

Smith said the district will open the fundraiser up to any Parent Teacher Organizations in the elementary schools, intermediate school and middle school. Middle school clubs that fund raise on their own also will  have the opportunity to partner with Black Squirrel Primitives.

"Our shop is in Spring Grove, and I grew up in Spring Grove all my life," Weaver said. "When we feel that we can give back to the community ... it feels really good."

For Smith, the fundraiser is a great way to support local businesses and also provide a quality product to community members who support the school through fundraisers.

"I can’t tell you how many times when my children were growing up and now with grandkids that I’ve spent money on stuff that I knew was going to fall apart, but I wanted to help," Smith said. "This way you’re purchasing something that’s a real treasure to have."

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