BENNINGTON -- Southern Vermont College students donated $1,000 and bags of canned goods to the Bennington Coalition for the Homeless Wednesday morning.
The students were those of Associate Professor Stacey Hills' "Quest for Success" marketing class, as well as members of SVC's Mad Hatters Theatre Club.
Combined, the students, approximately 50 in all, spent two weeks organizing and planning a family-friendly haunted hike and Halloween carnival, which took place last Sunday, to benefit the Bennington Coalition for the Homeless.
BCH Board of Directors President Stacey New said she's visited Hills' class on a number of occasions to speak to her students about the non-profit world and was aware that the students were planning a fundraiser for BCH, but had no idea the event would be so successful.
"When Stacey e-mailed me Monday morning to tell me how much the kids had raised, I almost passed out," New said. "I am so impressed with the work they did -- They planned the whole thing themselves from start to finish. I would have been grateful for $250, but $1,000, this is just unbelievable. We're going to have to think of a way to specially thank them."
According to the event's Facebook page, more than 400 community members and families attended the event, which included a haunted hike, kids' games, a kids' activity carnival, and a costume contest.
Two of Hills' students involved in the event, Elmer Olivares and Corey Barcomb, said they really enjoyed the project -- Barcomb coordinated the event's Facebook page for publicity and Olivares served as a tour guide on the haunted hike.
"It makes me feel really good to give back to the community," Barcomb said. "I was glad to see that a lot of people came out."
For Olivares, however, the event was particularly meaningful.
"I myself lived in a place like that (a homeless shelter) a really long time ago, so just to see how a group of students can come together and give back to something like that is truly amazing," he said. "It just felt so great."
Hills said the ticket sales yielded a total of $981, but, to "round it all off," she donated the remaining $19 to total $1,000.
"Doing things like this are why I love working at a university," Hills said. "It's important to be involved in the community."
New said the $1,000 will pay for December's fuel oil bill for all three of BCH's sites -- the 6 Bank St. Shelter for Families in Transition, the McCall Street Transitional Apartments, and the Thatcher House -- as well as the organization's welcome center and office building at 250 North St.
"We just got our fuel oil delivery yesterday," said New. "This check this will go right to the bank and then will be put towards next month's bill."
This donation comes two weeks after the BCH annual fundraising dinner, which, according to New, aimed to pay all of the coalition's standing utility bills for the coalition.
"Every single bill that night was paid in full and then some," she said. "The event was very successful, but this donation from the students really means a lot."
BCH Case Manager Tiffany Sausville was equally as grateful to the students for their efforts.
"I was really taken aback by the generosity of the young individuals in the community that wanted to help us," she said. "It's really amazing. Their contribution is going to go a long way."
Hills explained that a canned food drive was held simultaneously with Sunday's event.
"Any family who brought a canned good got $1 taken off of their ticket price," she said.
SVC's civic engagement organization, Moose Corps also collected food to add to the mass collected on Sunday.
The bags of food were presented to New along with the check on Wednesday.
Contact Elizabeth A. Conkey at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @bethconkey.