Spaghetti Dinner, Auction

Local Christian School Hosts Fundraiser

Cynthia Corbelli has plenty of experience making sauce and meatballs. This is a picture from when she used to cook for a summer camp. Submitted photo

Mark your calendar and set a reminder on your phone for Friday, April 5 at 5 p.m., when Bethel Baptist Christian Academy hosts its annual Pasta Dinner and Auction. Next, call the school to reserve the tickets to avoid paying an additional $3 at the door.

“This is our biggest fundraiser,” says Sarah Wilkins, school secretary and fundraising coordinator. “Typically, this brings in over half of our fundraising budget for the year. We need to raise $8,900 for our total goal of $20,000. We’ve been able to surpass this total goal for several years.”

The proceeds go to many areas, including student scholarships, curriculum, classroom materials, field trips or any programs that will enhance the students’ education.

“If it wasn’t for Sarah, we wouldn’t have this wonderful fundraiser,” says Cynthia Corbelli. “She has amazing organizational skills and remains calm.”

This is the second year for the spaghetti dinner, which replaces a lasagna dinner that began ten years ago. Mrs. Corbelli chairs a team of people to make the needed 1,200 meatballs.

Cynthia Corbelli's team make 1,200 meatballs for Bethel Baptist Christian School's Pasta Dinner and Auction. Submitted photo

“Everything is homemade. We don’t buy the meatballs, we make them,” she says. “We cater to gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian diets.”

“We’ve been averaging 350 (guests) but plan for 400,” Mrs. Wilkins said.

Susan tenPas of Sprinkles to Crumbs donates all of the desserts which includes pies, cupcakes, hand pies, cookies and bars. Dan Johnson, owner of Lighthouse Auto donates the majority of the supplies for the dinner.

The school sends out a survey early in the year to learn where the parents/grandparents are willing to help. The students help set up tables and chairs. High school students serve salads and desserts and refill drinks. They also bus tables and assist the elderly or anyone requiring help.

“Every task is well divided. We have people come back year after year, so we try to change it up,” states Mrs. Wilkins when referring to the decorations.

“It takes everybody to help,” states Mrs. Corbelli.

A professional auctioneer will conduct the live auction, which will take place at 6:30 p.m.

“We do a lot of overnight stays and there are rafting trips and fishing charters,” says the secretary. “Summer camp memberships, several local restaurant gift cards, theater tickets and tickets for the National Comedy Center.”

Some other items from the lengthy auction list are camping, gas, grocery, bowling and cosmetic gift cards, signed pictures from Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers (to be matted and framed), lawnmowing for one month, four edited drone photos, 8-hour pontoon boat rental, tickets for Erie, Buffalo and Chautauqua County attractions, 8-hour labor from a construction company and many more interesting and valuable items for all ages.

“All leftover sauce, meat balls and baked goods are auctioned, as well,” adds Mrs. Corbelli.

The cook came up with a sauce recipe when she was cooking for a camp and sent her husband to shop for the canned sauce she had used in the past. When he found the shelf empty where the sauce on his shopping list belonged, he decided to buy the ingredients he thought his wife could use to make her own sauce. The homemade sauce was a hit.

“The teacher’s always say it is torture having to smell the sauce cooking all day,” says the sauce maker.

The meatball recipe was adapted from her late mother-in-law, Santa Corbelli’s recipe.

Each year after the annual fundraiser, the committees come together to discuss how they can improve the event and what changes need to be made.

“We are the only Christian school in Jamestown and the surrounding area with the closest being in Dunkirk and Warren, Pennsylvania,” claims Mrs. Wilkins.

“We (the school) are a community outreach with students from 26 different churches. Home school students are welcome to attend special classes, such as art, Spanish, computer, physical education and to be part of the boys’ and girls’ basketball, girls’ volleyball and boys’ soccer teams.

Seventy-seven students, including an international student from South Korea, hosted by Melissa and Keith McEntire, attend the Christian school. Mrs. Wilkins has two children and Mrs. Corbelli has a daughter and grandson who attend, as well. The two oldest Corbelli daughters are also graduates from the Academy.

Dinner tickets purchased at the door at $3 more than advanced sale tickets. Call ahead to reserve tickets in your name at (716) 484-7420. Advance sale tickets are $8 adult, $6 student (second through twelfth grades), $4 students (Pre-K through first grades) and $35 for families. Take-out meals are available and have been very popular in the past. The school is located at 200 Hunt Road, Jamestown, New York. For more information, visit Bethel Baptist Christian Academy’s Facebook event page.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

1 onion, chopped

2 whole garlic bulbs, chopped

1-105 oz can tomato puree

1/3 c sugar

4-6 T basil


Saute onions and garlic until soft. Add puree, sugar, basil and salt. Cook 1 to 2-hours on low heat, stirring frequently.

Mama Corbelli’s Meatballs

1 1/2 c bread crumbs

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 T basil

1 T onion powder

1 T garlic powder

1 tsp oregano

3 lbs ground beef

3 eggs

Mix breadcrumbs with spices. Add ground beef. Beat eggs in separate bowl and add to mixture, mixing well. Form into balls, placing on a sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Yield 55 meatballs.