ALTON - Upper Alton Baptist Church will host their annual Chocolate Festival to raise money for their preschool.

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From 2–4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, community members can stop by Upper Alton Baptist Church at 2726 College Avenue in Alton for an all-you-can-eat chocolate extravaganza. The event costs $7 and you can refill your plate as many times as you want. All proceeds go to the Upper Alton Baptist Preschool, which serves families of children ages 3–5.

“It’s vitally important,” said Alison Donoho about the fundraiser. “Our preschool has been around since 1980, and things change a lot with the costs and everything. We at the church feel like our number one ministry is the preschool and being able to serve those kids and the families, so fundraisers like this just help us continue to do that.”

Donoho is the preschool committee chair. She sees firsthand how the kids benefit from the preschool, from learning their colors and the alphabet to social development. Kids also learn how to follow rules and how to behave in the classroom, skills that help prepare them for kindergarten.

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The preschool has been around since the 1980s, and Donoho said this longevity speaks volumes about the quality of the school. She has heard many parents and teachers say that they know a child will be ready for kindergarten if they graduate from Upper Alton Baptist Preschool.

“We say it’s more than ABCs and one two threes, it’s developing the whole child,” she added. “We started in 1980 and so we’ve been around for a long time. We’ve proven to be effective when students go to kindergarten. I feel that that’s just something that sets us apart from other places.”

The fundraiser will help the school continue to operate at a low cost for families. The annual Chocolate Festival is always held the Sunday before Valentine’s Day, and there will be a hot chocolate bar with plenty of chocolate treats, including chocolate-covered bacon. The all-you-can-eat chocolate starts at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, and Donoho promises it will be a fun way to support the preschool.

“Fundraisers and things like that just help us to continue to do our ministry with the preschool,” she said. “Things have changed, costs have changed and all that sort of stuff, but the ministry of loving kids and having them be prepared for kindergarten has always been what we have always strived to do. We just love the children and love the families that come along with that.”

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