Fundraiser frustration: Local PTA expecting $400 but can’t cash in

Tiogue Elementary School, Coventry, R.I.

COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) – Following a months-long fundraiser at a frozen yogurt shop, a local parent-teacher association is asking, “where’s the money we raised?”

The fundraiser was simple; Go to Menchie’s on Quaker Lane in Warwick, mention Tiogue Elementary School in Coventry, then a portion of your purchase would go to the school’s PTA.

“We thought it was going quite well,” said Guy Suffoletto, the PTA’s vice president.

Sufalletto said the fundraiser ran from September 2016 through December 2016. The parent-teacher group was expecting $400, which had been earmarked for playground upgrades.

“Four hundred dollars might not mean a lot to most people, but to the PTA, every dollar counts,” Suffoletto said.

When the PTA tried to collect its fundraising earnings, Suffoletto said the money was never sent.

According to business filings with the secretary of state’s office, Nancy Gardiner and Christopher Metallo are listed as directors, as well as the president and vice president of the frozen yogurt franchise. Gardiner declined an on-camera interview with Call 12 for Action. Over the phone, she confirmed that she had agreed to a fundraiser with the Tiogue Elementary School PTA.

Gardiner told Call 12 for Action she never paid because the PTA didn’t complete its part of the agreement to provide media coverage for a check presentation.

PTA parents said they tried.

In an email dated January 23, the president wrote to the franchise owner, “we have a contact at the local paper who covers school events, once we know the date and time we will let her know.”

Months later, on April 11, the PTA president sent another an email which said, “…if we have a date, I’ll tell the local paper and see if they can cover it.”

“It’s for the kids,” Suffoletto said. “That’s ultimately what it comes down to.”

When Call 12 for Action started investigating this issue last week, the shop was open for business. On Monday, it appeared to be closed; its windows were covered, and nobody answered the phone.

Menchie’s corporate headquarters has not immediately responded to Call 12 for Action’s request for comment.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.