Student Association (SA) recently won a philanthropy award for its work on the Battle of the Valleys charity drive.
The Mid-Michigan chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals presented its Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Award to SA President Caitlin Coulter and Philanthropy Chair Cheyenne Wilton at an awards dinner in December.
“Both Coulter and I were able to attend a luncheon to accept the award, and being in a room full of that many wonderful and self- less people was an experience I won’t soon forget,” Wilton said.
Since its inception in 2003, SVSU’s charitable contributions during Battle of the Valleys have totaled over $425,000, with the total between SVSU and GVSU coming out to over $650,000.
Last year’s Battle of the Valleys raised $36,210 for the Barb Smith Suicide Resource and Response Network, a Saginaw-based charity that works to prevent suicide, educate people on the signs of suicidal thoughts and provide 24/7 support to families and communities when suicide does occur.
“While I continue to be overwhelmed with the fundraising success, I want you to know how deeply touched I was to witness the passion and heartfelt drive of the SVSU community toward this significant university tradition,” stated Barb Smith, the organization’s founder, in a letter to SVSU after the fundraising amount was announced. “It was an honor to work with this next generation of leaders who are truly making a difference.”
Wilton talked about what an important experience being involved in Battle of the Valleys has been for her and other participants.
“Battle of the Valleys was such an amazing experience, and its success is wholly thanks to SVSU’s amazing student body,” she said.
“Without the students, there is no way Battle would be half as impactful as it is, and each year, a wonderful organization is able to help so many more people because of our campus’s efforts during Battle week.”
The inspiring nature of SA’s work on Battle of the Valleys was also acknowledged by the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ award committee.
“It’s important that the Student Association be nominated and awarded for their efforts for numerous reasons,” said Dick Touvell, secretary of the Mid-Michigan chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. “In addition to inspiring others, the impressive amount of money that is raised … to help improve the quality of life of others is a remarkable achievement worthy of recognition.”
Touvell also hopes that the success of Battle of the Valleys will encourage the student bodies of both schools to be more involved in philanthropic efforts throughout their lives.
“As the students are participating in this ‘Battle’ fundraiser, they are also being introduced to the world of philanthropy,” Touvell said. “Hopefully, this experience will contribute to establishing a pattern of philanthropy that will become an important part of their adult lives.”
Wilton talked about why being philanthropy chair was such an important role to her.
“I wanted to fill the philanthropy chair position because helping others has always been something important to me,” she said. “I joined SA in the 2018 winter semester and from the beginning, philanthropy chair was the position I was drawn to most because I feel that it is so important that college-aged people understand that they can change the world just by lending a helping hand. Philanthropy is important because it is important to be aware of what the people around you are going through and cognizant of what you can do to help.”
This semester, SA is gearing up for the Re- lay for Life in February and will collaborate with other philanthropic organizations on campus in an effort to support other philanthropic efforts on campus, Wilton said.
Reporting from Brian Fox, Reporter