The countdown on most people's mind this time of year is the number of shopping days until Christmas, but not Barbara Mackey's.
Mackey, the director of the Fourth Ward School Museum in Virginia City, has only two numbers on her mind, $12,845 and 25.
The school's board of directors has 25 days to raise $12,845, or they lose a $50,000 challenge match for the school's endowment.
In January 2006, Bob Kendall, a retired mining engineer, challenged Northern Nevada and California to match a donation of $50,000 to the endowment fund for the Historic Fourth Ward School Museum. He gave them until the end of the year to do it.
The museum began a "Parties of the Year" fundraising campaign, holding events throughout Northern Nevada to generate money for the school. After the last party on Halloween, organizers had raised $37,155 toward the challenge.
"We did the fundraiser, but we knew that wasn't going to cover the full $50,000 we needed. So we were hoping to make up the difference with private donations," Mackey said.
Kendall was the 1936 eighth-grade salutatorian of the Fourth Ward School, the year the school closed.
The museum received some help in the form of a $2,000 grant from the Foundation for Cultural Affairs.
"The Fourth Ward School Museum has won national recognition for its expert restoration and for its world-class programming," said Ron James, state historic preservation officer. "Because of this, I have asked the Foundation for Cultural Affairs to offer the Museum $2,000 to serve as match, provided they eliminate the remaining deficit by the end of 2006."
Should the museum generate the additional $10,000 needed to complete the challenge, the money would go into the museum's endowment fund to help defray costs of maintaining the 130-year-old building.
"This will ensure that we have the capital to do the continuing maintenance," Mackey said. "We've put a tremendous investment into this building, and we'd like to see it continue."
Mackey said that maintaining the museum is important, not only as a historic building, but as a way to keep the stories of the past alive.
"It's kind of a monument to all the people who settled here. It has the ability to tell the story of the individuals, not the heroes or the generals, but the schoolchildren," Mackey said.
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.
You can help
• Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Fourth Ward School Museum can call Barbara Mackey at 847-0975.
• Donations going toward the match grant must be pledged by Dec. 31, but don't necessarily have to be made by that date.