This year, the St. Mary’s Community Fund (SMCF) fundraised and awarded over $35,000 in grants to six organizations of its choice, one of which included Girls on the Run!
The SMCF essentially acts as a student-run community service club that connects students with proposed charitable organizations, said Susan Whitten, director of the fund.
By providing them the opportunity to collect donations throughout the year, students learn meaningful skills in community building and service.
Each school year, members of the group are required to perform 12 hours of community service, with at least six hours at a chosen agency funded by the grant within the past four years.
“We don’t want the relationship with our grantees to be a one-way street of handing them a check,” said Whitten. “We want to build a relationship with them to get to know their staff and program participants. It’s about building a community.”
Students collect donations year-round through email solicitations, personal donations, and the club’s annual November Fundraising Campaign. For two weeks, students invent creative methods of fundraising, spanning from carpool donations, virtual auctions, and potlucks! In fact, two-thirds of the club’s yearly budget is accumulated through its yearly campaign.
“It’s the kind of risk-taking we want them to take in high school before they get out into the real world,” she said. “This work is very ‘adult.’”
To Whitten, SMCF not only allows students to build their resume and refine their leadership skills, but it allows them to develop a foundation in the value of serving others.
With Girls on the Run as one of the group’s chosen grantees, Whitten expressed she cannot wait for what is in store for St. Mary’s collaboration with the program.
“We’re so excited about our new partnership with Girls on the Run,” she said. “We’re really looking forward to this coming year and figuring out how we can be of service!”