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CECI’s anniversary celebration to help fund scholarships

By Staff | Nov 13, 2019


The Children’s Education Center of the Islands will recognize its nearly five decades of dedication to the islands’ youth with an evening of food, fun and entertainment, and the community is invited.

The 45th anniversary celebration will take place on Nov. 16 from 6 to 9 p.m. at MudBugs Cajun Kitchen. Serving as a fundraiser for the Sanibel center’s scholarship program for students, the event will feature a buffet dinner and drinks, live and silent auctions, 50/50 raffle, live music and more.

“It’s celebrating our 45th year of providing preschool services for the islands,” Executive Director Cindy Carter DeCosta said, explaining that the parents of some students were enrolled once.

“It’s a third generation that is being invested in our school,” she said.

Proceeds from the celebration will go toward scholarships.


“This is mainly going to be funding our scholarship program,” DeCosta said, adding that about 25 percent of the preschool’s students rely on the scholarships. “Several of them have been placed in the care of people who are not their parents, so these are unexpected costs for their caregivers.”

CECI does not have a set fundraising goal.

“We’re hoping to raise as much as possible,” she said.

The buffet dinner will include brussels sprout kebabs and boudin balls for appetizers, along with stuffed shrimp, jambalaya, Creole pasta, Cajun chicken, dirty rice, crawfish fritters, seasonal vegetables and Caesar salad. To finish off the meal, MudBugs will serve freshly-made beignets for dessert.

Unlimited beer and wine is included in the ticket price; there will be a cash bar.

Live entertainment will be provided by The Blue Gators.

“It’s a Cape Coral-based blues trio. They have a connection to our school,” DeCosta said, explaining that it has grandchildren who attend. “We are very excited to support a local band, and they support our preschool.”

Additional highlights of the celebration will be the live and silent auctions.

There will be a handful of prizes in the live one, including:

– Sunset cruise from Adventures in Paradise plus appetizers and wine provided by the Paper Fig Kitchen for up to 49 people


– Adventures in Paradise trolley tour pub crawl for up to 15 people

– South Seas Island Report stay with a Jensen’s Marina full-day boat rental for up to five people

– Three-day, two-night stay at the ‘Tweens Waters Island Resort & Spa

– Birthday party with decorations at the Sanibel Fire and Rescue District station

“Some parents are very excited about this,” she said of the birthday party package. “They’re telling us they’re already going to bid on that.”


More items will be up for grabs in the silent auction.

“We’re trying to keep it smaller but do bigger packages,” DeCosta said.

Some of the items are a foursome round of golf at The Sanctuary Golf Club, family portrait session with Twist of Fate Imagery, three-day two-night stay at the Casa Ybel Resort, full-day fishing charter for four people with Catchin’ Jiants Charters and a $200 gift certificate to Congress Jewelers.

“Some great items,” she said. “A little something for everyone.”

According to DeCosta, CECI was started locally by local families and it evolved into a locally-supported preschool and daycare for those who work and live on Sanibel and Captiva.

“We are a nature-based curriculum,” she said. “We believe nature is the best classroom, and it provides inspiration to develop confidence and independence. while improving social and creativity skills.”

The school focuses on each child’s interests to create a meaningful learning experience.

“We support long stretches of unstructured but purposeful play and exploration,” DeCosta said.

Tickets for the event are $100 each.

“We are getting closer to selling out,” she said.

The community is encouraged to reserve theirs sooner than later.

“It helps our community school support our children, who are our future,” DeCosta said. “We help teach children to love the earth, since they will be the ones taking care of it.”

For more information or tickets, visit www.childrenseducationcenter.com or call 239-472-4538.

Mudbugs Cajun Kitchen is at 1473 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel.