January 28, 2013

Fundraising with class: WAA to host raffle benefiting local schools

The Women’s Athletic Association (WAA) will host its annual Hoops for Hyde Park Schools (HHPS) fundraising raffle at the men’s and women’s basketball games against Case Western this Friday.

The money raised will be donated to two Hyde Park schools, Woodlawn Elementary Community School and Fuller Elementary, to spend on equipment for their athletic departments and physical education programs.

Expectations are high for this year’s edition of the fundraiser, which has raised over $30,000 since it started 25 years ago. The success of HHPS has not gone unnoticed. At this year’s NADIIIAA/Jostens Community Service Awards, WAA was given an Award of Merit for their work. The award offers justification for the work WAA has put into this project, which isn’t the main purpose of the organization.

“While the WAA is an organization that is not primarily targeted at helping the community, we all have an obligation to critically engage with the world around us,” WAA Special Events Chair Julia Sizek said.

“Students often do not realize our own privileged position in the world, and how opportunities that we had are not necessarily shared by all students. By having an event like HHPS, we can both raise money to address these inequalities in opportunity and raise awareness among the student population.”

After having its most lucrative year to date in 2012, Hoops for Hyde Park Schools is poised for an even more successful 2013. As well as selling raffle tickets, WAA has supplemented its fundraising efforts this year with the sale of Chicago Maroon merchandise.

“This year, we did a few additional efforts to raise more money for Hoops for Hyde Park Schools,” WAA president Kim Cygan said. “At the beginning of fall quarter, we pulled together a pinnie order (jo“c”k pinnies) for current students and alums, and $4 from each pinnie purchased went to HHPS.”

The raffle prizes have been donated from various Hyde Park and Chicago businesses, including Second City and Shedd Aquarium. There will be five grand prizes of $100. Between the raffle tickets and the Maroon merchandise, WAA hopes to earn somewhere in the region of $4,500: $500 more than last year’s event. This improvement, however, would come as no surprise to the women working on the event.

“Every year, we make sure that more student-athletes are involved and start earlier with the organization of the event and fundraising,” Sizek said. “By increasing efficiency as well as the number of students involved, we raise more money.”

“The secret to the success of this event is the participation by our WAA members,” Cygan said. “Every female athlete commits to selling $30 worth of raffle tickets for the cause. Additionally, the WAA reps and executive board members voluntarily seek out donations for the event from local businesses, restaurants, museums, and sports teams for the raffle.”

For all of the hard work that goes into making Hoops for Hyde Park Schools a successful event, perhaps the most important ingredient to its success is the enthusiasm WAA brings to the work it’s doing. As student -athletes themselves, the members of WAA are uniquely placed to understand the benefits of a strong physical education department.

“Participation in sports is something that has positively affected every member of WAA,” Cygan said, “so it is great to be able to give back to the community in the unique way that HHPS does.”