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 Post subject: Community Service
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:18 am 
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I'm going to continue filling the roll I've had on this forum for the last seven years here. (Mother of God-- seven years of this forum! Assuming the tags are accurate; I'm now entirely too busy/lazy to double check if they are.)

Remember how, when I was in high school three years back, I would always entertain you with tales of what banal thing I had done this week or that week, and the nicer members of the forum would act like it was actually something anyone cared about? Well I'm doing that again with a charity fundraiser at my university called The Bonnie Fund. Started it up after a heartbreaking conversation with a very sweet old lady named Bonnie who works at the sandwich shop (Subway) in my residence hall.

It was pretty late, near the end of her shift, and I was getting some dinner, and we got to talking. Her hands shake, so she's slow to put together sandwiches, and I've often wondered why she still works there at her age and with her condition. Tonight, I found out-- apparently, some time ago, her daughter (only child) and son in law both passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. I thought it had been a few years; after talking with her coworkers, I discovered that it had only been a few months.

She's been raising their three children on her own as a single grandmother ever since they became orphans. She has only the income of a local Subway manager, and as I mentioned, she's at least in her seventies, and has a condition that makes her hands shake (not sure what the condition is-- it's never seemed appropriate to inquire). Anyway, they're a broad age range (9, 15, and 20, respectively) and she wants to take them on a family vacation this summer while their schedules still allow for it. She told me that she had to be very careful in planning it, or she'd break the bank and screw up their budget, but that she'd managed to figure out how to drive them all down to Destin, FL and back up to Indiana without it being too taxing.

Well, I decided that life isn't nearly fair enough, and that I'll be damned if I'm going to let it stay that way. We decided that we were going to give Bonnie the best dang summer vacation she'd ever had, and that Rose-Hulman students were going to fund it. I picked up an Easter basket from the holidays, sent out an E-mail to the local service groups, Resident Assistants, and Sophomore Advisers (I am an RA, was an SA last year, and am a member of literally all of the service organizations on campus) telling them Bonnie's story and asking for their help in collecting money. I received a very limited response, but a few people had their hearts warmed and donated generously; one guy e-mailed it out to his freshman floor and got $50 out of the blue. I was impressed with the generosity of that guy, but $50 was hardly a lot. A lot of the Res Life staff didn't e-mail their floors about it-- they didn't want to spam them, which I fully understand. So I took matters into my own hand and scrounged around my building, knocking on any doors that were closed, barging into rooms with open doors, and asking people if they'd like to contribute. Turns out, Bonnie's been the nicest old lady anyone on campus has ever met.

On her name and story alone, I raised nearly $150 more. Other floors chipped in when they heard about my success. In one day, we accrued $307 for the Bonnie fund. The next day, I hit up the rest of the apartments (another three floors) and my old freshman hall. At the end of day 2 we were just shy of $500. Then it got real: Day three we stormed three more residence halls, I did a presentation for all of the Greek Presidents after the whole thing went viral on Facebook, people I didn't know, or hadn't seen in nearly three years accosted me in the hallways to donate, and we jumped up to $1080. Today, I got a check from one of the fraternities as well as even more out-of-the-blue donations. We counted up all of the spare change we'd collected from half of campus. We added it all up.

Right now, on day five of collecting money, we've raised $2,250 for the Bonnie fund. Keep in mind, this is almost all just going door-to-door asking college students for money to help a woman with a tough life. While many of them had met her before, some of the largest donations came from people who rarely or never had cause to interact with her; freshmen who never came over to Subway due to their meal plans. On average, I got around $50 per floor from upperclassmen residence halls, where the students had known Bonnie for three or more years. I got $215 from one freshman floor after one guy declared that he wouldn't spend the $50 he was donating on anything more worthwhile than this, and a second guy won a 50/50 raffle from a fraternity's charity event (March of Dimes), then turned around and promptly donated $50 of that to my cause saying, "It went to charity in the first place; it doesn't seem right if it doesn't go back where it was meant."

Long story short, I'm very, very proud of my friends, classmates, and fellow Fightin' Engineers for the ridiculous amount of capital we've raised in just five days. I have another $200 pledged from Circle K International, and the service fraternity (APO) has promised to darkhorse their way to victory the night before we finish our final tally due to first prize for the top donating floor/organization. I haven't heard back from 14 out of the 15 fraternities yet with a confirmed donation amount, but I know that at least one has been collecting and has at least another $20 to give. I have four more residence halls to storm for money (for reference: $1750 of the current funds are the result of storming five residence halls, with one of the smallest floors on campus making the largest individual contribution of all). We're planning to present her with it on Tuesday night at midnight, right after she finishes her shift.

When we brought her coworkers into the loop to learn about the surprise we had planned, we were worried that they would reply by saying, "I've had a tough life, too. Where's my handout?" Instead, they donated upon hearing that we were collecting, and requested that we change the donation date based upon when they would be working with her.

TL;DR: Man is good, and in just five days my school raised $2250 for a single, working grandmother to go on one last family vacation with her three orphaned grandchildren whom she has been raising all by herself, and we're only expecting that number to go up between now and Tuesday.

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 Post subject: Re: Community Service
PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:43 am 
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DarthTofu wrote:
as I mentioned, she's at least in her seventies, and has a condition that makes her hands shake (not sure what the condition is-- it's never seemed appropriate to inquire).

I'm not a doctor, but I would say she has Parkinson's disease. Just a guess :?

Excellent job Tofu! :D Any updates on your more recent efforts? When will you present the funds to young-Bonnie? Keep up the good work!

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 Post subject: Re: Community Service
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 9:24 pm 
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We presented her with it a few days after I made the post.We were at $3000 the night before we were going to give her her money. That felt pretty good-- it was literally ten times what I thought we would raise.

Then Tuesday came. I had a few random folks text me (recognized most of the numbers at least) talking about donations, and I told some to go to student affairs to drop them off, some to go to my room. When I finished up a nasty midterm, I came to student affairs to get whatever had been dropped off so that we could hit up the bank. One of the fraternities donated a whopping $592 that day. Needless to say, I forgot about the crappy midterm and may or may not have shed a few manly tears. There were a few more donations as well, to the point where I walked out of the building with around $800 or so. Then I got to my room. People had dropped off $600 on my desk over the course of the day. Six. Hundred. Dollars.

When we went to the bank and totaled everything up, we had a check for $4441.06. That was entirely too close to a fun number, so we gave her an extra $3.38 for the sake of hilarity. Oh, and Aramark, the company in charge of the food services on campus, decided to match us a quarter for every dollar raised. So all-in-all, we gave Bonnie $5,555.55, or 18.5 times what I thought I'd accrue from all of campus. Here's a picture of Bonnie and I from when we presented her with the money. It was more than a tad emotional. There's also a video of the reveal. Gotta say, it felt pretty good.

:)

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12/14/07
Nu kyr'adyc, shi taab'echaaj'la
Not gone, merely marching far away


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 Post subject: Re: Community Service
PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 4:10 pm 
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I wouldn't say I have ever been one of the nicer members around here, but in this case I must sincerely applaud your efforts, Tofu. I only wish I would have noticed this thread sooner.

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