SOUTHWICK-Since 1955, town residents have been supporting students with scholarships through Southwick Dollars for Scholars.
As the organization continues its rebuilding efforts with new volunteers and officers, president Lisa Hough is hopeful that others will consider either making a tax-deductible donation or creating a named scholarship.
“The reason I got involved with this organization last year is my son contacted Southwick Dollars for Scholars to create the Lisa Hough Scholarship which would be given to a student with outstanding community service,” said Hough, noting it was a 50th birthday present. “He sent in a check for $250 and the organization match of $250 created a $500 scholarship.”
As Hough and officers continue to brainstorm fundraising ideas, they are encouraging others to also consider a named scholarship.
“Last year we gave 45 named scholarships,” said Hough, adding there are also scholarships as memorials for teachers and coaches, and companies in the area offer scholarships.
“It’s very moving to have someone create a scholarship in your name or for the memory of a loved one,” said Hough, adding, the scholarship is a “wonderful way” to give back to the community.
Hough noted that the organization’s scholarships are not need based.
“It’s one of the few scholarships that is not needed based so students can obtain assistance for a college even in a middle class family that might not look like they have a financial need,” said Hough, adding, “but, if they’re sending a child to college there is always going to be financial need. The criteria for financial aid is extremely low.”
Every donation, no matter the size, is appreciated, since many scholarships are built from $10, $15 and $25 donations, according to Hough.
“When a minimum donation of $250 is made, Southwick Dollars for Scholars will match the first $250 to create a named scholarship of $500 or more,” said Hough.
The Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce is also among the organizations that support Dollars for Scholars.
“Our Chamber is so pleased to support the Southwick Dollars for Scholars with a $500 scholarship every year to help defray college costs to a deserving student,” said Kate Phelon, executive director. “I have to give credit to our Chamber members who support this fundraising effort for not only Southwick, but for Westfield and Gateway school districts too. It is also a way we can give back to the communities the Chamber serves.”
Hough said the Bingo Night that was conducted in January was a “success” since the fundraiser netted $6,000.
“We want everyone to know that 100% of the funds raised will go toward scholarships,” said Hough.
The deadline to submit a named scholarship is the end of April, and students have until March 30 to complete an application for this spring’s scholarship ceremony.
To reach the board, send an email to [email protected], or mail a donation to Southwick Dollars for Scholars, P.O. Box 838, Southwick MA 01077.
“We are also always in need of volunteers,” said Hough. “We have monthly meetings and most of our volunteers only participate two to three times a year in fundraising activities.”