Gun raffle to help fund Umatilla High School students causes controversy

High school plays no role in the fundraiser, Lake County Schools say

UMATILLA, Fla. – A gun raffle is causing controversy in Lake County after a group of parents posted about the fundraiser on social media.

People have been voicing their opinions after the gun raffle was shared on Facebook with some saying it is a good idea while others worry mixing guns and schools sends the wrong message.

“Shocked,” Ashley Sokalski said. “I mean, I was not even aware of it.”

Sokalski is the parent of a student at Umatilla High School and was upset to learn about a post by a private group on Facebook, UHS Project Graduation 2022, raffling off a gun.

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The post reads, in part, “We need more senior families to help sell gun raffle tickets” and “This is a great fundraiser if we can sell all tickets!!”

“I am totally against it. I mean, with all these school shootings and everything why are you raffling a gun — like seriously,” Sokalski said.

News 6 reached out to Lake County Schools.

A spokeswoman said Umatilla High School has no role in the raffle saying, “There is no obligation for any parent to participate, and my understanding is that students are not permitted to sell or purchase the raffle tickets.”

Other residents said there are still some unanswered questions.

“I think giving it to someone random is not best because you just don’t know their background. You don’t know their intentions — you just don’t know them,” Julianna Siste said,

Some people, who did not want to go on camera, said this fundraiser is a good idea considering the area is rural with many hunters who can use a weapon like the one being raffled off.

Others suggest an alternative going forward.

“I think it’s great to have a raffle or like giving funds to kids to have like graduation and all of that, but they could give like chocolate, (a) vacation, any of that,” Julianna Costa said.

News 6 lefts messages for the organizers of the Facebook group to ask about this raffle. This story will be updated if they respond.

About the Author:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.