Fundraising malfunctions

Causes raise money online due to COVID-19


Story by Stephanie Jumper, Staff Writer

In wake of the coronavirus, several organizations have unexpectedly turned to the internet to take donations when physical fundraisers are not an option. 

The Dusty Waldrep Scholarship started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the college expenses of one senior. This year, the project is run by student body president Jenna Williamson, student body vice president Olivia Lower and senior class president Karson McDonald.

“We just thought that [a GoFundMe] would be the best way to spread [the message] and get the money the easiest,” McDonald said. “I looked at GoFundMe first, and it just talked about how it was the easiest and best fundraising and I was like ‘might as well.’”   

The scholarship usually collects funds from a dodgeball tournament, but it began to raise less money in recent years. In an effort to increase profits, the project’s leaders planned a kickball game instead. This was canceled in light of COVID-19.

“I was very disappointed because we had done a lot of work for it. It was supposed to be a lot of fun,” McDonald said. “We would’ve had Kona Ice come in that week [and] a senior vs. faculty volleyball tournament. With everything that’s going around with the coronavirus, our senior year is coming to an end, and so this definitely didn’t help.”

The senior class’ prom is also solving their problems with the World Wide Web. The dance’s annual drawdown was held over Facebook Live instead of a dinner due to the pandemic. 

“[If we had the dinner as planned] we would have had more time and would have been able to sell more tickets,” prom committee co-chair Lori Wood said. “We didn’t get finished selling the tickets for it when [COVID-19] hit and we couldn’t have the function since we were under social distancing guidelines, so we had to cut our ticket sales a little short.”

In the drawdown, everyone who buys a ticket is assigned a number. The numbers are then pulled out of a container, with each one called being taken out of the race. Although the last number called is typically the winner of the $3000 cash prize, this year the last five people split the amount. Wood thinks the event’s online setting and families’ financial issues caused it to lose potential customers.

“It didn’t involve dinner and the social gathering that makes it so much fun,” Wood said. “ We know a lot of [not raising much money was] because people were under financial constraints and unable to purchase a ticket. [The Facebook Live] was not ideal, but we worked through it, and we had enough participation that we [made] over $4,000 for the prom, so it wasn’t a total loss.” 

The committee hoped to raise $7,000 from the drawdown, but they were unable to reach that goal. Due to this budgeting issue, the committee may cut unnecessary expenses such as decorations for the prom. They might also serve a buffet as opposed to a sit down dinner to decrease costs. 

“It wasn’t a significant amount [that we lost], and we can cut our budget in other places without adversely affecting how great the prom is expected to be,” Wood said. “We’re just going to cut costs and expenses that we were planning on spending to make up the difference. We’re fortunate that we had finished a lot of our fundraising before all this hit.”

This Dusty Waldrep scholarship raised $500 before school closed thanks to the Kiss a Senior Goodbye fundraiser. The GoFundMe surpassed the $2000 goal by people spreading the page on social media and continues to increase.  

“A lot of people have been sending it out,” McDonald said. “We put it on our StuCo Instagram page, and a lot of people have reposted it. We’ve put it on SnapChat stories. I sent it to [Mrs.] Dupree to send out to the faculty, and so we got a lot of donations from the faculty. We’ve had a lot of donations come in from a lot of different places. We’re still waiting for donations to come in and still spreading the word, so donations are coming in as expected.”

Whether the fundraiser will be as successful as previous years remains a mystery.

“I believe that we’re under different circumstances,” McDonald said. “Could we raise as much money as [we] would have if we would’ve done a tournament? I don’t know yet. It could do better. It could do [less well]. We’ll just have to see.” 

Although the amount collected could differ from previous years, the cause behind the cash remains the same.      

“The scholarship means something to [Student Council adviser Susan] Waldrep,” McDonald said. “We did this for a senior so they could get the scholarship, and we also did it for Mrs. Waldrep, so the scholarship that means a lot to her wouldn’t just go to waste.”

The scholarship was created in memory of Waldrep’s son, Dusty Waldrep, who passed away from kidney disease. Some of the GoFundMe’s profits will also go toward an outdoor grill in William’s Memorial called Dusty’s Grill in honor of Dusty. 

“It’s definitely not the same as doing the kickball tournament, but it’s still good that we’re doing stuff for [the scholarship] and we’re doing it in Dusty’s name,” McDonald said.

While the scholarship is guaranteed to go to the senior that earns it, the prom’s fate is not as certain. The dance is currently scheduled for June. However, it is unknown if social distancing regulations will be lifted by then, leading the committee to discuss alternative ideas if the event is cancelled. 

“The worst case scenario is that there is no actual prom dance. There’s a certain amount [of money] that’s allocated every year to go to next year’s prom, almost like a startup fund for the juniors,” Wood said. “The rest of the money would be for gifts, so we would spend the money on the seniors. As far as what we would get in particular, that has not been discussed. We don’t know if it’s going to be a dollar amount or if it’s going to be actual prizes and gifts, but we will spend the money on the seniors minus what has to go toward next year’s prom.”

The committee is doing all they can to not resort to their backup plan and ensure a senior prom despite recent events.   

“It’s terrifying to think that it’s not going to happen, but in the same token I know most of the seniors understand why and that administration and everyone involved with prom are pushing and doing everything in their power to come up with plans B, C [and] D,” Wood said. “We’ve come up with so many different scenarios between the different committees and [spoke] with administration so that we can figure out a way [to have the prom]. [If] there’s any possible way that it could happen, we want it to happen.” 

To donate to the Dusty Waldrep Scholarship, please visit this page.