° empty

School collects $2,433 in fundraiser

ROD GUAJARDO / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Vidalia High School Key Club advisor and teacher Amanda Wingfield, left, and club president Nicholas Carroll hold a chart showing the results of a three-week Pennies for Patients fundraiser.

VIDALIA — What started as an ordinary fundraiser at Vidalia High School to benefit a charitable organization, turned into a heated school wide competition — raising more than $2,000 in three weeks and giving one senior class a little slice of heaven.

As part of a service project, the Vidalia High School Key Club decided to organize a Pennies for Patients fundraiser through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The three-week fundraiser promised a pizza party to the homeroom that raised the most money, under the agreement that the entire school raised at least $500.

Amanda Wingfield, club advisor and teacher at VHS, said she sat down with her Key Club members to decide a goal for the school.

“I was worried that we weren’t going to raise that $500 for the free pizza party and that the Key Club was going to have to pay for it,” Wingfield said. “But we optimistically came up with $1,100 as the goal, and we ended up doubling that.”

When the school raised $212 on the first day, Wingfield said she knew it was going to be an interesting competition.

“At that point no one knows who’s winning or anything, so it was good knowing they were donating it for the charity,” Wingfield said. “After that, the underlying competition is what kept them motivated.”

After each homeroom period in the morning, Key Club members would gather the donation boxes and count the money.

Nicholas Carroll, club president and a junior at VHS, said that counting all the money — mostly pennies — was no quick feat, but that knowing it was for a good cause made it that much easier.

“I’m surprised at how well we did, but I’m just happy we raised that much money and were able to help the organization,” he said.

In order to keep things interesting, the competition was broken down into two separate victory prizes.

The pizza party incentive remained, but was shortened to two weeks.

A day for an entire class to break dress code and wear jeans was created for whichever grade raised $1,000 during the full three-week period.

Two junior class homerooms and one underdog senior classroom competed neck and neck throughout the fundraiser.

Tenth-grade biology teacher Tim Herndon’s senior homeroom decided to break its usual mold of apathy toward fundraisers for one last stand.

“They hadn’t done real well with some of the other things in my homeroom, but they got really excited about this one,” Herndon said. “They’re seniors and most of the time by this point they don’t give a hoot about anything, but they stuck with it.”

As the two-week competition came to an end, one senior came up with a strategy that ended up giving his homeroom the victory.

“We brought in about $60 on the day before the last day and just told Coach Herndon to hold on to it and that we would combine it all the next day,” said Joshua Fauver. “I called and texted everyone and got them to bring anything they could, and we ended up with almost $200 that last day.”

The final contribution shot Herndon’s homeroom $50 over both junior homerooms and resulted in them winning the pizza party.

“It was exciting because it was the one thing we made up our minds that we were going to do before we left,” Fauver said. “We had a lot of people saying, ‘What’s the point since we never win,’ but we just said ‘No. We’re going to win this.’”

The entire school’s donations resulted in a total of $2,433.88.

While the two junior homerooms were defeated by some last minute strategy, 11th was the only grade to raise more than $1,000 — qualifying the juniors for a free jean day on March 21.

“I was so proud of our school as a whole to be able to unite everyone and come together for a great cause like this,” Wingfield said. “We’ve never had a drive like this where everyone got so into it and raised this much money.”