Students use event planning class to raise money for local nonprofits
This semester, the Liberty University students enrolled in Event Management, a course in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, have been hard at work. Their assignment? To create, plan, and facilitate an event from the ground up, all with the purpose of raising money for a local nonprofit or organization of their choice.
While Assistant Professor Alison Pettit has left the doors wide open for students to be creative with their events, the ultimate goal is for each group to raise at least $300 — without any starting funds.
The class has already held two events, including a 90s karaoke night and a Coffee and Canvas event to benefit the Jubilee Center, which helps at-risk youth through programs and services aimed at helping them develop academic and social skills.
Groups are also planning a bake sale for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and a gala for Habitat for Humanity.
According to Pettit, the class could raise up to $3,000 total for their respective organizations.
“Not only are the students gaining experience, but they’re also giving back to the local community,” Pettit said. “It’s a win-win. Many of the students have a personal connection to the organizations they picked because they are currently serving there.”
That’s the case for junior Hannah Roberts, whose group planned a designer bag bingo night for the Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center, a nonprofit medical clinic offering free and confidential services to men and women facing a unplanned pregnancy. The event was hosted at Heritage Baptist Church, where attendants played for the chance to win a designer bag, along with other prizes donated by local businesses. The group raised $1,300.
Roberts began volunteering at the center last year and said the experience has already impacted her.
“A woman came into the center who was 99 percent sure she was going to abort her pregnancy, but she ended up changing her mind and decided to keep her baby,” Roberts said. “It’s just amazing what they’re doing to help women and save lives.”
Creating their own event has been filled with challenges for Roberts’ group, but the students said they were excited to see it all come together.
“Planning the event has been a great opportunity to learn about how we can do this,” said senior Taylor Henderson. “There were so many questions we had going into this — plus we’re planning an event with no budget. But it was a bonding experience for our group and developed our skills (as event planners).”
The group believes the event wouldn’t have been successful without the encouragement and knowledge of Pettit.
“She encouraged us through the whole process,” senior Stephanie Sedmak said. “She guided us and answered all of our questions and allowed us to be creative.”
This was the first time Pettit has taught the class. She said when the idea came to her to have students raise money for area nonprofits, she felt like it was God’s way of telling her to use her knowledge to mentor students looking to break into the industry.
“Event planning is such a valuable skill that everyone should have,” Pettit said. “This is a way for them to learn that skill — and to give back to something they are passionate about.”