Case Study: Helping Cheshire YMCA Raise Funds for Educational Tours

4 Aug

YMCALogoThe YMCA is a non-profit organization committed to bringing people together and mobilizing local communities for meaningful change. Popcorn Palace has been helping a few chapters of the YMCA raise money for important projects. We recently spoke with Kathy from Cheshire YMCA about her work with the Heritage Tours program, and how she has used Popcorn Palace fundraisers to help raise money for these educational and exciting youth trips.

Kathy has been volunteering with the YMCA for 14 years and running the Heritage Tour program for 7 years. The Heritage Tours make history alive for middle school students in surrounding areas. Kathy and other Heritage Tour leaders take the youth groups to important historical landmarks in order to show them the places they’re currently studying in their Social Studies classroom. The American Heritage Tour takes students to all of the historical sites in Philadelphia, PA, Washington D.C. and Gettysburg, PA. And the New England Heritage Tours visit a variety of locations in New England based on the student groups who attend.

Clearly the students are traveling to multiple historical sites in multiple locations, so they need to cover travel costs, but Kathy emphasized that there are additional costs.  “We want to learn about the kids,” she explained. “We want them to get to know us. So we meet for months prior, teach them about the places that we will go to, so they have a good idea about the history, honors, and respect of the sites.”

Kathy gave an example of the importance of setting the stage for the students.

On a spring tour to the Marine Corps War Memorial (the Iwo Jima Memorial), I had a small group of 8th graders with me, and while we were there, a group from the Honor Flight Program showed up. Honor Flight honors veterans who served in WW II, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars by flying them up to see memorials built in their honor. Here they are, 90 year old veterans coming to see the memorial. Without even being prompted, our kids lined up and shook their hands. They knew what to do. It was very touching.

The New England heritage tour costs $500 per student, and the American Heritage Tour costs $900. There are some students whose parents pay for the program in full, but some of the kids have trouble financially. The Cheshire YMCA wants any student who wants to go to be able to go. They receive some funding from the community, and they also send kids home with packets about fundraising opportunities to give families a vehicle to earn the money themselves. Kathy says, “I prefer that a child has to work to earn a seat on the bus. I see a difference in the kids who helped work to come on the tour. They value it more.”

For some kids, this is the farthest they have ever gone in their life, and for other kids they are second generation to come through the program. It means a lot for everyone involved.

Students on a Heritage Tour with Cheshire YMCA

Students on a Heritage Tour with Cheshire YMCA

The Cheshire YMCA was introduced to Popcorn Palace fundraising a few years ago. They always try to offer a couple of different fundraising options, and they found the Popcorn Palace website as a potential opportunity. According to Kathy, they asked for a sample and loved the product. “Yum!” Her favorite flavor that we’ve offered is White Chocolate Peanut Butter.

The first time they ran the fundraiser, Kathy was a little more hands on to get used to the process, but now it runs really easily. They present the fundraiser to the kids and parents, send the orders out and get the popcorn back in boxes labelled with what is inside. She says, “It is a very simple process.”

Ultimately, kids that participate make a huge a dent in the cost of the tour. We here at Popcorn Palace are really happy that we’re helping kids participate in such an educational and fun opportunity. We look forward to working with Cheshire YMCA and similar programs in the future.

If you’re interested in more popcorn fundraising information, check out our Popcorn Palace fundraiser page. We’d love to hear from you.

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