The Shelby Junior High School Student Council is creating what it calls “reverse fundraisers” to give back to local restaurants.

The Shelby Junior High School Student Council is creating what it calls “reverse fundraisers” to give back to local restaurants.

Photo provided by Tim McAvoy

UCS students create fundraisers to give back to struggling community restaurants

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published April 23, 2021


SHELBY TOWNSHIP/ UTICA — The Shelby Junior High School Student Council has been running what it is calling a “reverse fundraiser” for the community, in which the council raises funds to support local restaurants that are struggling during the pandemic.

Local restaurants often have held special fundraising nights over the years in which a portion of their proceeds on those special nights would go to support the school. With COVID-19 affecting restaurants’ sales, students wanted to put a spin on these fundraising nights to give a boost to the restaurants.

For the fundraiser, the students contact restaurant owners to set up the reverse fundraiser night, and then the school advertises the night to encourage its families to eat out that evening at the restaurant.

The reverse fundraiser advertises the restaurants through the school’s Facebook page, through emails to staff and families, and through the principal’s weekly newsletter.

The council has been running the fundraiser every week since March 1.

“These kids are motivated. They work during their own time, in the evenings, on the weekends and over breaks to seek out the restaurants, and then they make the contacts. I am very proud of their work and their commitment to the community,” said Michelle Kupke, one of three advisers working with the student council.

Adviser Erin Chambers said that the student council is asking for nothing in return for its help.

“Shelby Student Council is asking nothing in return. Schools have depended on local businesses for a long time. We saw this as an opportunity for the school community to support them,” she said.

She said they will keep going with the fundraiser as long as restaurants are available and school is in session.

“I think this fundraiser is a great way to help local restaurants and give back. In the past, local businesses have helped out schools, and this is our way of returning the favor. Service is part of our club’s goals. It is important that we do what we can. With regulations of the pandemic and not wanting to jeopardize anyone’s safety, we felt this was a good idea. The community is appreciative, and it just goes to show that a little effort and a good idea can benefit a lot of people,” she said.

The student council meets virtually on Wednesdays after school. The group learns about leadership, school pride and community service. The council also beautifies the school and encourages school spirit.

Achieving the commitment to community service has been a challenge with COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions in place. However, with a little creativity and a few brainstorming sessions, the idea of the reverse fundraiser emerged.

“The students are working hard to stay connected to school clubs and continue a sense of normalcy. Student council has allowed kids to still be involved in school activities. I applaud their effort for thinking outside the box and looking for solutions to solve a problem. Our biggest message in student council is our efforts make others’ lives better. This is an example of how the kids thought of something beyond their school and helped their community,” Chambers said.

Danielle Gibbs, also an adviser, commented on the theme of normalcy.

“Giving these kids an opportunity to continue to work in clubs and participate in afterschool activities has given them a sense of normalcy during this time,” Gibbs said.

Zeina Faour, a member of the Shelby Junior High School Student Council, said she likes being able to help out local businesses.

“I like that we don’t take any profits of the money and the local business takes all the money. I also like that we can help businesses like they have always helped us,” she said.

She said that this is a learning experience that not many people get.

“It’s a very fun way to get involved in the community and help struggling businesses during this time,” she said.

The student council is looking for additional businesses to support during the remainder of the school year.