For more than two decades, the Ford School has hosted an annual student-led fundraising effort that spans both semesters and raises money for a nonprofit nominated and selected by students. The initiative is headed by members of the Charity Auction Committee, who plan small events throughout the year that culminate in a school-wide formal including both silent and live auctions.
The Charity Auction and other fundraising events are more than just fun, slightly quirky, opportunities for the Ford School to come together for a great cause. In the past decade alone, these events have raised over $121,000 for non-profit organizations local and international. The tradition continues in the 2016-17 school year, with proceeds going toward the Flint Child Health and Development Fund of the Foundation for Flint.
Last year’s Charity Auction events raised $12,000 for Save the Children – Syria to support displaced children and their families fleeing the ongoing war. The donation helped provide classrooms and child-friendly spaces for children to learn and have fun. “We believe that every girl and boy deserves a childhood, and that every child should be able to follow his or her dreams,” says Sarah Cummings, Director of Individual Philanthropy at Save the Children. She extended her gratitude to the students, staff, and faculty who contributed, helping Syrian “girls and boys realize what may have seemed impossible to them.”
This year’s Charity Auction will benefit the Flint Child Health and Development Fund, otherwise known as the Flint Kids Fund. The fund awards grants to support the long-term needs of Flint children exposed to lead. This includes nutrition education, integrated social services, health services, and early childhood education.
Charity Auction Committee members stressed the importance of this year’s nonprofit choice in light of the ongoing Flint water crisis. “Flint is only 45 minutes from our campus,” says Kate Naranjo, a committee member, so “it feels really meaningful this year to send aid to an organization as well established as the Foundation for Flint doing work in such an urgent crisis.”
The Charity Auction fundraising events this fall included a trivia night at the Blue Leprechaun on October 20 and a No-Shave November. For the month of November, students and professors gathered pledges to grow certain styles of facial hair (or to go clean shaven for those who normally sport beards). The month raised a total of $1,250 in pledged support.
Upcoming events this semester include a bowling night at Revel & Roll on January 31, a series of Top Chef Bake-Offs in March, and the culmination of the fundraising year at the Charity Auction itself on April 1, 2017.
What will this year’s silent and live auctions hold? The Charity Auction Committee will start accepting in-kind donations starting in the winter semester. They are hoping to have at least 60 items donated by local businesses and Ford School community members. Submissions run the gamut from excursions with faculty members to donated items from local businesses. Last year, the most popular item sold was the “Youngish Faculty Cocktail Party,” hosted by Megan Tompkins-Stange, Kevin Stange, and other “youngish” faculty. The party went to a group of students for $2,350. Another crowd favorite was Alli Zimmerman’s donation of “time with Hugo,” her puppy.
The Charity Auction Committee’s goal is to surpass last year’s donation of $12,000. Says Naranjo, “We hope to make Charity Auction’s events as accessible to everyone as possible. We have daytime events, nighttime events, drinking events, and non-drinking events. All events are a ‘suggested donation,’ and we encourage people to donate as much or as little as they feel comfortable with.”
Asked why Ford School community members should plan to attend, Naranjo noted the "spirited" live auction and said there would also be dancing. Fellow committee member Lydia Miller (MPP ’18) added, “Especially this year, there is so much discussion around acting on what you advocate for. This is an avenue where you can turn words into action and make a tangible difference in the Flint water crisis.”
This year’s Charity Auction committee members are: John Guerriero (MPP ’17), Kate Naranjo (MPP ’17), Ivy Tran (MPP ’17), Jonathan Beam (MPP ’18), Diego Campos (MPP ’18), and Lydia Miller (MPP ’18).
--Story by Jacqueline Mullen (MPP ’18)