Finding funding: how clubs at ‘Stoga are finding creative ways to function

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By Aditi Dahagam and Nishka Avunoori, Co-Web Content Editor and Staff Reporter

The aroma of butter and sounds of bursting kernels filled the lobby as peer mediators served popcorn to long lines of students during their biweekly Popcorn Friday fundraiser. Popcorn Friday sponsored Peer Mediation’s major student body events such as Unity Fair and Cornucopia.

Many club fundraisers like Popcorn Fridays and bake sales will not continue this year due to the pandemic, but clubs are finding creative funding options during distance and hybrid learning. 

Peer Mediation executive treasurer and senior Julia Lewandowski has been brainstorming ways that the club can fundraise virtually this year, including virtual cooking classes hosted by a local chef and virtual trivia night with paid entry and prizes. They are also planning a holiday house-decorating contest where participants’ house decor is judged and awarded. Lewandowski believes that her innovative and safe ideas will encourage students to engage in fundraising activities. 

“Really thinking outside of the box and using these creative ideas might be very effective because it’s hard to get people involved in school and it’s going to be harder to get people involved outside of school,” Lewandowski said.

Mock Trial uses funds raised from bake sales to participate in the Pennsylvania Bar Association Mock Trial Competition. Since the virtual competition still requires a participation fee, the club plans to use profits from previous years to cover the cost and is devising ways to fundraise this year. Executive Board member Maya Rebholz believes that switching to a virtual platform will not affect the club’s primary goals.

“(A lack of funding) doesn’t have any effect, though, on our preparation and excitement for the mock trial competition,” Rebholz said.

Latino Culture Club donated profits from churro sales to community organizations like ACLAMO in Norristown and held toy drives to benefit a Puerto Rican community in previous years. Since these events might not be able to continue, club adviser Sarah Taylor plans to focus on creating a sense of community within the club for now.

“It’s really important for us to make donations to try to help organizations that we believe in, but I would say that (club funding) is not everything to the club, and we can still meet and have that cultural experience and share things without having money,” Taylor said.

While some clubs are finding ways to fundraise outside of school, these plans are not concrete and may continue to change as students shift back to in-person learning. Ninth grade Assistant Principal and Activities Director Chandra Singh explains that the school may attempt to find new and safe methods for students to fundraise when they return.

“If we go back to the building and we’re able to allow for there to be (fundraising events) that students can do, that can evolve, and the conversation can continue on how we can best support our clubs and students,” Singh said. 

Peer Mediation sponsor Marcia Mariani believes that despite the uncertainty surrounding club fundraising, club members’ common interests are enough to keep clubs going.

“I’ve never seen a time when our student body didn’t give when they were called upon, so I think that if they believe in the cause and think it is important, they are going to come through. I think it’s an important concept that our community itself is a charitable community,” Mariani said. “The kids will figure it out. They will. They always find a way.”