After nearly three decades of hosting its annual spring fling event in-house, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School will go virtual. The format wasn’t created with new features in mind but out of necessity.

“Times have changed. Due to our current social distancing and stay-at-home order, we will not be holding the social event gathering where we always have,” Sheila Hedin, the school’s advancement director, said.

Traditionally the spring fling has been a means for SEAS to secure funding for building expenses or improvements and technology upgrades. Recent projects include a new parking lot, security upgrade and new computer server. This year, with a change in format, comes a change in the school’s fund in need.

Assisting families impacted by COVID-19.

“We’ve shifted gears to the cause, focusing more on the families that have been impacted by this COVID-19 crisis so we can continue to provide Catholic education to these families,” Hedin said.

How exactly will the virtual spring fling work?

The hourlong event will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 25, and be conducted via Facebook Live. Originally scheduled to have dueling pianos, food and other entertainment, the night will now consist of a presentation highlighting the school.

With the inability to hold a silent auction, there will be online bidding through BidPal.

“We’ve had an online bidding for several years through BidPal,” Hedin said. “You don’t have to pay to participate, you are given a bid number so you can go in and bid.”

Bidding will open April 19 and close at 7 p.m. the night of the spring fling.

Some of the featured items to bid on include: hosting a dinner with Archbishop Hebda, a hot-air balloon ride for two adults, sailboat excursion on Lake Pepin, Twins tickets and tour of Target Field for a game to be determined, gift cards from local businesses, and more. For those not interested in any of the items but still want to support SEAS, you are also able to donate directly to the fund in need.

Proceeds from auctioned items will go to the Hastings Catholic Education Foundation — an endowment fund established in 1985 to support Catholic education. HCEF will then use the funds for tuition assistance. If there are any remaining funds after assistance has been provided, the school plans to update classroom technology.

How can families in need apply for assistance?

Hedin said there are two primary steps in the process. First, a family must be a current school family. Second, they will need to state what is needed and why. As of April 9, the school has approved $10,000 toward tuition assistance.

While bidding hasn’t opened, items are already populating BidPal. To view the items or to place a bid once the auction opens, visit https://one.bidpal.net/seasspringfling2020/welcome.

On the night of the spring fling, you can participate virtually by visiting www.facebook.com/SEASSchool.

For more information about SEAS or HCEF, visit seas-school.org or www.hastingscatholiceducationfoundation.org.