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W&L Habitat for Humanity Chapter Earns State Farm Matching Grant

The Washington and Lee University Habitat for Humanity chapter has been selected as one of the 2009-2010 State Farm Insurance Companies $5,000 Matching Grant recipients.

State Farm issues only seven $5,000 Matching Grants to campus Habitat chapters nationwide. With this matching grant, State Farm challenges the recipients to raise an amount equal to the grant before May 15, 2010, and to donate it to their affiliate chapter in order to receive the matching funds.

W&L Habitat for Humanity seeks to aid its affiliate, the Rockbridge Area Habitat for Humanity, by raising money to relieve poverty housing and homelessness in the community. All the proceeds from W&L fundraising efforts go directly to the Rockbridge affiliate for the use in building homes. The State Farm Matching Grant will provide the chapter the opportunity to double its fundraising efforts.

The W&L Habitat for Humanity chapter is led by co-chairs Robert Thorpe and Charles Wilson, both seniors at W&L.
Adam Schwartz, associate professor of business administration and the group’s faculty advisor, attributes the grant achievement and the success of the W&L Habitat Chapter to Thorpe and Wilson’s efforts. “Charles and Robert are fantastic leaders,” said Schwartz. “They do a great job with the Habitat Hotel and other fund raising projects.”

Already this year the chapter, under the direct guidance of Thorpe and Wilson, has raised $10,000, thus achieving the stipulations of the matching grant. Wilson predicts that by the end of the year they will have raised $15,000 through a combination of their fundraising efforts and the State Farm grant.

“The Habitat for Humanity Fundraising Board typically raises the majority of its money from Habitat Hotel each year,” says Wilson, referring to one of the organization’s most successful projects. Habitat Hotel aims to get the entire W&L and Rockbridge community involved in fundraising by askings both members of the University community and local residents to host parents of W&L students in their homes over Parents and Family Weekend. Parents pay $100 per night, and all proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity.

“Habitat Hotel usually brings in about $4,000,” said Wilson. “We also receive a sizeable portion of our final donation from the school – $5,000 from the student body Executive Committee allocated us $5,000. In addition, we create a T-shirt with a different theme each year to create awareness and educate the students on the purpose of Habitat in our community. Through T-shirt sales, concessions and donations, we are able to get another $1,000.”

The $15,000 that the W&L chapter raises is used for the construction of a Habitat house in the area, and Wilson said estimates are that the average cost of a house is $98,000.

Thorpe encourages more members of the community to become involved in Habitat’s work through spreading awareness and through participation in both builds and fundraisers. “As a charity organization, we rely on this awareness and on the fundraising that follows it,” he said”

“What makes Habitat for Humanity distinct at W&L, is that every dollar we raise goes to the benefit of Habitat. Our exclusive purpose is to give. Habitat has afforded me the unique experience of working with members of the local community,” said Wilson, adding: “We hope to be able to receive the matching grant again and make it an annual fundraising goal.”

— by Maggie Sutherland ’10