By CHARLOTTE RODINA
The University of Mary Washington’s Philanthropy of Economics and the Nonprofit Sector class is the recipient of a $10,000 grant from Doris Buffett’s Learning by Giving Foundation for the eighth consecutive year.
This year, juniors Chelsea LeHew and Taylor Knight are thinking one step further by raising even more money, collecting more donations and involving community members.
Doris Buffett’s Learning by Giving Foundation is a program that promotes the study of philanthropy by donating funds to students to distribute to local nonprofit organizations. During class time, the 26 students have been working on a mission statement focused on promoting education and recreational programs, health services and career-skill development, which will help them choose the recipients.
On Sept. 29, they held a bake sale in front of the Read All Over bookstore in downtown Fredericksburg. They sold cupcakes, brownies, caramel popcorn, muffins and cookies, some of which were donated by the local, home-based bakery Fat Girl Cakes.
“We’re really lucky to have that support from the community, too,” said LeHew. “Our goal is to try to involve Fredericksburg as well as the UMW campus.”
The bake sale yielded a $252 profit, a good start to reaching their goal of $1000. Leftovers from the bake sale were donated to the Thurman Brisben Homeless Shelter.
“We’re hoping to raise enough to be able to add another recipient to our list of nonprofits we choose for the grant,” Knight said.
LeHew and Knight will also be handing out vouchers to Fredericksburg area restaurants that will donate a percentage of those sales to the class. They plan to have another bake sale, this time on campus, and, possibly, a carwash.
Additionally, LeHew and Knight are organizing a supply and food drive. They will be leaving bags, boxes and letters of explanation on local doorsteps as a way to collect necessities such as toothbrushes, clothes, blankets, canned food items and gift cards to places such as Walmart and Wegmans.
The items will be donated to Fredericksburg’s Thurman Bisben Homeless Shelter and the Empower House, a women’s shelter.
“The energy level and initiative is extraordinary in this class,” said Robert Rycroft, professor of economics, teacher of the philanthropy class and facilitator of the grant.
The class will announce the recipients of Buffett’s grant in December.
Knight reflected on her appreciation of the time, money and efforts of philanthropist Doris Buffett. She wants a career in human rights law, while LeHew plans to become a financial advisor, a role she said her experience volunteering has prepared her for.
Knight said, “I looked at the generous gift Ms. Buffett is giving us, and thought, ‘What could I do more?’”
UMW is one of 17 colleges and universities to receive the Doris Buffett grant this semester. In the past eight years, the philanthropy class has distributed $70,000 to 15 organizations.