Sisters Team Up In Hopes of Winning Fundraiser for Catholic Schools

Noelle Pianoforte (left) said she had to pinch herself last year when she learned she won the fundraising competition. She is trying to help her sister Natalie (right) win this time around. (Photo: Paula Katinas)

BENSONHURST — St. Athanasius Catholic Academy students Noelle and Natalie Pianoforte are hoping that winning The Tablet’s COVID Relief Fundraiser for Catholic Schools turns into a family affair.

Noelle, a sixth-grader, won the competition in 2021 for selling the most subscriptions to The Tablet than any other student in the diocese — 48 — and she’s trying to help her younger sister Natalie, a third-grader, take top honors this year.

“When I found out that I won, I was super happy and I thought it was a dream,” said Noelle, 12. She wants Natalie to experience that same joy, so she’s asking customers to purchase subscriptions from her sister.

“I wanted to take part this year because I wanted to help my sister win, Noelle said. “I can text my family members and ask them to buy from her,” she added.

Natalie, 8, is only too happy to accept help from her big sister and she also has her own strategy: “I’m going to ask my friends to buy it,” she said.

“I’m going to win,” she added, displaying the confidence of a born salesperson. Her goal is to sell 70 subscriptions.

Principal Diane Competello said excitement at St. Athanasius is at a fever pitch for the fundraiser. Many of the school’s 370 students are taking part. “The children are all revved up this year,” she said. 

It’s a positive experience, she said. “When it comes to fundraising, a lot of the time, it’s on the parents. So this is something that the students themselves can do. They can go be little salesmen and saleswomen and feel a sense of accomplishment that they can actually sell something,” she explained.

Noelle walked away with the first-place prize of $3,000 last year and put the money toward her tuition and the purchase of new school uniforms. Natalie hasn’t decided what to do if she wins, but she knows that buying new uniforms is part of the plan.

This year, prizes from the contest, which is sponsored by DeSales Media Group, the ministry that produces The Tablet, include $3,000 prizes each for the top-selling small academy, large academy, and high school and a $3,000 prize to the student selling the most subscriptions.

The second-place student will receive $2,000 and the third-place winner will be awarded $1,000. All other students who sell at least three subscriptions will qualify to earn $10 for each one sold.

“It’s not just the money,” said Msgr. David Cassato, pastor of St. Athanasius Church. “The kids love it because it creates a little competition. Competition is healthy.”

The fundraiser also serves another purpose, said Msgr. Cassato, who is also the vicar for Catholic Schools. “It gets The Tablet into the hands of people and it gets them to read good Catholic news. And what is needed out there is the message of the faith, the message of God’s love, and that’s what The Tablet does,” he added.