Lakeview students add to United Way campaign

COTTONWOOD — National Honors Society students in the Lakeview School District provided an additional boost this year for the annual regional fund drive organized by United Way of Southwest Minnesota.

They developed a dress down campaign that asked for $1 contributions each week from students and faculty in return for being able to participate in a Friday Hat and Jeans Day. Over a timeframe of several weeks, the promotion generated $266 for United Way supported non-profits.

Lakeview Principal Scott Hanson said juniors and seniors in the Honor Society decided to raise funds for United Way for the first time in the 2018-19 school year. They then chose a dress-down fundraising campaign as a first-year project.

Part of their strategy was to enlist the help of eighth graders who take part in the National Junior Honor Society. They helped to generate enthusiasm in their own junior high age group and in elementary grades.

“The students took charge of the fundraising with help from their advisor (high school language arts teacher Nicole Fischer),” Hanson said. “They spread the word to all the grades and made it a success.”

The dress down project is one of several major fundraisers that took place this year at the Lakeview K-12 campus.

Elementary classes raised $3,120 a week-long national Jump Rope for Heart campaign. They gathered pledges from school district residents and online by contacting family members and friends.

A Pennies for Patients fund drive, in which all classrooms are given a bucket to place donations, generated am additional $500 to put toward the prevention and treatment of leukemia.

The dress-related concept appealed to Honors Society members as a way to be creative and at the same time raise money for worthwhile non-profit charities.

“The dollar donations were something extra that we could do in return for having a Friday privilege,” said Lakeview student and Honors Society vice-president Alexis Lieneman. “We could express ourselves and do it in a way that raised money for a good cause.”

United Way assists a variety of organizations with each annual grant cycle. The financial support helps all of the recipients as they offer needed services such as health care, emergency assistance, senior citizen programs, and help for residents with disabilities.

Sierra Plotz, a senior at Lakeview and the National Honors Society secretary, said several of the United Way campaign participants put extra measures of creativity into their clothing selections.

One person wore five hats stacked one above another. Some of the other examples included a matching outdoor-themed hat and shirt, a Washington D.C. hat decorated with a fish hook, and a hat from Ohio State University.

The organizers already have several ideas for expanding the their school’s first-ever United Way campaign. Among the possibilities are a chance to earn gift cards, an award for best outfit, and themes for the different Fridays such as Halloween and Homecoming.

“We’re happy with the results, especially since it was a first-year project,” Plotz said. “Hopefully other students will build on what we started. There are good possibilities for adding to it and raising more money.”

Grace Rausch, a Lakeview eighth grader, said the Honors Society campaign was well-suited to junior high students.

“Sometimes people hesitate to dress differently because they aren’t sure how others will react,” Rausch said. “This kind of project showed how we can be part of the fun and not look out of place. When enough people try something like this, others see that it’s fun and decide to get involved.”

Fischer said the dress down campaign is one in a group of accomplishments made every year by individual Lakeview Honors Society members and by the entire chapter.

“They invested a lot of time in planning and promoting it,” Fischer said. “That paid off with great results. It’s one of many times they’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty.”

United Way of Southwest Minnesota Executive Director Sarah Kicmal said Lakeview is the fourth school in the region to have a fund drive. Others that participate are Marshall, Murray County Central and Dawson-Boyd.

United Way concluded its annual campaign this spring with a grand total of $615,301. Funding requests are being collected this spring. A new set of grants will be awarded later in the summer.

“We’re always interested in helping schools become part of United Way’s mission,” Kicmal said. “We encourage them to be creative and to have fun while they generate contributions. Everything they raise makes a difference.”