Image obtained from inside.ewu.edu
For the past four years, Giving Joy Day has been a day for the EWU community to support students with donations. This year, students needed it more than ever after being affected by COVID-19. Previously, the funds from Giving Joy Day were primarily focused on scholarship opportunities based on donor wishes. This year, a majority of the funds went to the Student Emergency Fund.
“The purpose has always been to increase support for students,” EWU President Mary Cullinan said.
EWU raised a total amount of $270,972 from donors throughout the community. While there has been higher numbers in previous years, staff was still surprised by the success, according to Cullinan.
Between a declining economy and a technology-specific campaigning approach, staff didn’t know how well this year’s Giving Joy Day would go. But with EWU alumni at plenty of local businesses, the community stepped up to help.
“That Eagle Spirit is really something,” Cullinan said. “Raising this much in this environment is really significant.”
There was an outpouring of support on the EWU campus, with almost 100 EWU faculty and staff donating to the cause. A lot of them were first-time donors as well, showing how touched they were by how dire the situation is.
“This university and this community cares so deeply about students,” Cullinan said. “We want them back and we want them healthy; we miss them.”
Giving Joy Day usually involves students as well. However, with students self-isolating and the lack of on-campus residents, social media was the only way to try and get students engaged.
With spring weather reaching campus, Cullinan and other faculty members are especially missing seeing students around. If circumstances were different, there would’ve been activities for students all around campus to spread spirit.
An advancement team was in charge of reaching out to the community to support Giving Joy Day this year. Instead of being able to meet face-to-face, they had to get creative. They reached out to businesses with gift baskets, EWU t-shirts, and other rewards for giving to the cause.
“Moving to this online approach, [the advancement team] did a fantastic job,” Cullinan said. “But like everything else, we miss that social aspect.”
The biggest takeaway from Giving Joy Day 2020 is that there is support for students being affected COVID-19. The Student Emergency Fund is growing and has the potential for donations to keep coming.
Faculty is also trying to make sure the fund is well-known, accessible and flexible. The pandemic has hit students in unique ways, and faculty wants to make sure there is help regardless of stipulations. Restrictions have been altered or taken away amidst the pandemic for that reason.
Through this, the campus food pantries have been able to stay stocked and operational. The fund has also been used to assist students without personal computers or internet access as we switch to an online instructional quarter.
Any student who is struggling can contact the Student Care Team in Student Affairs for support. As part of making the Student Emergency Fund more flexible, students can contact even if they are unsure of their potential for funds.
In the past, Cullinan liked to provide opportunities for others to “match” what she donated, therefore doubling the donation. This year was no different. She said she loves being able to create the scenario where funds are doubled.
It’s known throughout the community that students need help now more than ever, but EWU is ready to provide that aide.
“Most importantly, know that we love you all,” Cullinan said.