Cougars unite in record-breaking holiday fundraising season

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Marriott School of Business student council members gather in front of the Center for Women and Children in Crisis after delivering donations collected during Festive Finals campaign. (Marriott School of Business Student Council)

The donations have been tallied and the 2019 holiday season of giving at BYU resulted in the most successful campus-wide fundraising efforts in years.

The Valley United Against Hunger food drive in November was the first fundraiser to reach new heights. “This year we raised about $1,200 more than last year, making this our most successful year since we first started partnering with UVU about five years ago,” said Quincey Hettinger, president of BYU Student Alumni Association.

Hettinger said the food drive brought in a grand total of $46,756.27 to donate to the Community Action Services and Food Bank in Provo.

Totals raised during 2019 food drive for Community Action Services and Food Bank. (Whitney Bigelow)

The food drive is a yearly joint effort between BYU and UVU student alumni associations. It’s the largest food drive Community Action Services and Food Bank receive each year. Each dollar donated helps produce 15 pounds of food, which is enough to give three meals to a hungry family of four in Utah Valley.

Volunteers gather after assembling Cosmo the Cougar cupcake mural. (Student Alumni Association)

These donations came from students, faculty and other members of the campus community. One of the campaign’s most successful activities included the $4,500 collected during the sale of a cupcake mural of Cosmo the Cougar.

Classrooms also joined in on the fundraising. Together, the American Heritage classes of professors Kelly Patterson and Christopher Karpowitz were able to raise over $4,000 for the cause.

Students also donated volunteer hours. About 200 volunteers donated over 500 hours of their time throughout the month, according to the Student Alumni Association.

Abby McCrary, vice president of philanthropy at the Student Alumni Association, said students gave in both big and small ways. “The coolest thing I experienced was watching a young man walk up and quietly donate $100,” McCrary said. “Seeing students give so much was huge.”

The BYU Marriott School of Business joined in on the spirit of giving in December with a new Festive Finals donations drive for the Center for Women and Children in Crisis. The Center acts as a local shelter and resource center for those impacted by sexual and domestic violence in Utah County.

Students and faculty of the Marriott School came together to raise over $3,500 in donations for the center. But these were not just traditional cash donations — 85% of the donations came through Amazon purchases.

“We chose to offer a more millennial approach in the way that we would encourage students to serve and donate” said Matt Kerr, executive director of the Marriott School of Business Student Council Service Committee. “We created an Amazon wishlist that anyone would be able to access and pick out an item to purchase. This also made it really easy to market and spread the word since all we had to do was share a link or QR code.”

Donations gathered inside the Center for Women and Children in Crisis. (Marriott School of Business Student Council)

The Marriott School community purchased 280 items to help families in crisis, including basic necessities like diapers, hats, gloves, cleaning supplies and other basic household items. These items were specifically requested by the center to help the individuals and families involved in their programs and services. 

Donations were shipped directly to the Tanner building, allowing the boxes to be placed around the large Christmas tree in the center of the atrium, helping students visualize the impact they were making.

“It was exciting for everyone to see the pile grow over those few days,” said Eric Teel, BYU Marriott School of Business administrative dean.

Even during finals, members of the student council and administration said they were impressed with how students stepped up to help people in the community and make a difference.

“The representatives that received the donations when we dropped them off were ecstatic and explained that these items would really bless the families to get back on their feet,” Kerr said.

Amazon boxes from donations for the Center for Women and Children in Crisis placed around Christmas tree in the Tanner Building Atrium. (Marriott Student Council)
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