By Devlin Smith
On Feb. 22, more than 1,000 elementary, junior and senior high school student council representatives gathered at the Chandler Center for the Arts on the campus of Chandler High School in Chandler, Ariz., for various fun and leadership activities. One component of the event is fundraising. This year, the students worked together to raise money for the African Well Fund, collectively bringing in over $25,000.
Kelsey McKinney is a senior at Chandler High and student body president. She helped organize the event and discussed how the fundraiser came together and why raising money was an important component of this student event.
What was your role in the event held on Feb. 22 for area students?
I currently serve as the student body president for Chandler High School and my job was to oversee every committee and everything that happened for the convention, basically to make sure everything ran accordingly and smoothly.
Can you describe the event?
The CUSD Student Council Convention is an event where all the elementary and junior high student councils come together for a day and the high school student councils lead them in leadership activities and fun. The morning starts off with a big opening ceremony where each school presents a handmade banner, as well as a unique song/chant. We judge these categories and give out trophies. After the opening session, the elementary students go to student-run workshops while the junior high students listen to a fabulous speaker, then we have lunch. After the junior highs go to workshops and the elementary students listen to the guest speaker. We close out the wonderful day with an exciting closing ceremony as well as hand out the trophies to those schools named winners.
How does fundraising play into this event?
Every year we pick a fundraiser in order to instill the need to give in our little ones.
How did your school decide to benefit African Well Fund?
A woman from Africa came to my church and was talking about the conditions there. She had worked for an orphanage that my church had raised a quarter of a million dollars for. I went online and did some research looking for nonprofit organizations that help get clean water to Africa. When I found African Well Fund, I took it back to the council and the decision was unanimous.
How did you tell participants about AWF? What kind of reaction did you get from participants to AWF?
We sent out a DVD of me and another CHS council member being “extreme explorers” and acting absolutely goofy. Then we described the fundraiser and gave ideas. We also included important water facts that I found on the web site. We never received any negative feedback only schools excited to participate.
How was money raised for this event?
Our school collected money in water jugs and had really sad announcements that made people listen and give. We also awarded the winning class a trip to SunSplash, a local water park. Many of the elementary schools held car washes, bake sales, carnivals and money wars between grades.
What kind of impact did this fund raiser have on you and the other students who participated?
It really gives the little ones a sense of accomplishment. We take everyday necessities like water for granted and until you sit back and actually think about how much we consume and waste every day, you would never think about someone in another country suffering. It is nice knowing that all of us together really can make a difference.
Why do you think it’s important for students to get involved in fundraising activities?
I think it is important because not only does it give you a sense of accomplishment, it is always important to give back. Living in America, we have been blessed with having all of our amenities met, and then some. I also think it really helps to unite a large group of people. So many people in this world feel so minuscule and discouraged when it comes to helping others, but when you get a lot of people together for a great cause, wondrous things can happen.
What advice would you offer to other schools or school groups who want to fund raise for charity?
Don’t think about it, just do it. It doesn’t do anything to sit and ponder ideas, just make it happen. Also try to use creative ideas to get the whole school involved. Offer exciting prizes and use really heart-wrenching facts and videos. Make them feel bad. It always works, especially with high school students.