“This is actually our first year of doing Project Care,” said Dawn Cook, vice president for Institutional Advancement. “In the past, what we’ve done, ... we typically supported other community service projects especially around the holidays, but this year, we were really, really struck by the number of students and employees who were facing difficult situations, whether that is the loss of a job, sick family members, losses due to the recent flood and so forth and so on. So we decided this year the important thing to do was to take care of our West Georgia family.”
The West Central Technical College Foundation and the West Georgia Technical College Foundation each donated $500 in seed money toward the campaign. The student leadership council also donated $500 toward the project. Since then the college has been fundraising, collecting money at a staff development session, approaching WGTC board of director members and foundation trustees, as well as working with local businesses to raise funds. This week, in time for Thanksgiving, the college is auctioning off donated baked goods to raise money. With a full day left for bidding, the auction had already raised $600.
“We’ve really partnered with a lot of different folks to make that happen,” Cook said.
The college has also teamed up with businesses to collect food for holiday baskets. There are collection bins on every campus and the college has set up for collections at local stores to collect 50 boxes of food to distribute.
The college is taking applications for food and financial assistance until Nov. 30. Current students, faculty and staff can apply until Nov. 30 for either a food basket or financial assistance – not both. The applications will be reviewed by a committee and awarded on Dec. 15.
The failing economy has taken its toll on so many people in the community. The applicants are asking for money for utility bills, baby formula and diapers, gas money to get to and from classes and rent. The college started considering a fundraising effort for a student emergency fund last year, but the need seemed even more pressing this year and enveloped the whole WGTC community.
“We feel like the need is there,” Cook said. “The economy has raised more of an awareness and an urgency to put this project together.”
Although the economy spurred the college into action, WGTC is planning to make the program a year-round project. The college is already reaching out to sponsors to help sustain the project for the whole year.
“The intent of this whole Project (Care) is to help others during the holidays,” said Phil Carter, director of the Carroll Campus in Carrollton. “The economy has made all of us rethink and guide us in what we can do for others.”