The Group: Buckeye (Ariz.) Middle School PTSO

The Setting: The school’s 100th day celebration, with a catered Italian dinner in the cafeteria and lots of raffles for kids and adults.

The Idea: About 700 students, parents, and community members came out to share a meal together. Local dignitaries, including the mayor and town council members, joined the celebration, and on-duty fire fighters and police officers ate for free.

What Went Wrong: The desert town had a rare downpour. The PTSO put up tents so the caterers, who had set up outside, could keep dry. Then the power transformer blew—and everyone was left in the dark.

What Happened Next: “We had no power and a cafeteria full of people with no lights,” says PTSO board member Sally Stinson. “We thought it was all over, then we saw everyone open their cell phones for light.”

The Outcome: Attendees enjoyed their Italian food by cell phone glow, and the raffles went on as planned. Despite the complications, the event raised $8,000 for the parent group.

On the Bright Side: “No matter how much you prepare, the unexpected is sure to happen,” Stinson says. “I don’t think we would change anything in the future. OK, maybe a few flashlights.”

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