A creative holiday themed campaign called sweater for scholarships helped to fundraise $12,600 for student scholarships and the Student Emergency Bursary at Red Deer Polytechnic. 

Community members were encouraged to share a photo of themselves with friends, family or coworkers in a festive sweater to show support for students and encourage donations. 

“Our community is generous and at this time of year, many donors think of our students’ needs and make donations to scholarships or other areas. This year, through conversations with students and alumni who have received scholarships and bursaries, we wanted to add extra impact for students to see the faces of the donors who are so generously invested in their success,” says Richard Longtin, Vice President External Relations at Red Deer Polytechnic. “Sweaters for Scholarships provided an avenue for our donors to share their photos with us on social media so that we could show students the people who are championing them.” 

This initiative resonated with the Board of Directors of the Polytechnic’s Alumni Association (RDPAA). Two current members volunteered to share their stories as part of the campaign. Lynne Madsen, RDPAA Secretary (and instructor in RDP’s Bachelor of Science, Nursing program), shared her experience of needing emergency financial support near the end of her post-secondary education. “I received $500 [from the Student Emergency Bursary] and a trip to the Students’ Association Food Bank. This support at this critical time allowed me to finish my program and graduate rather than withdraw and go back to work full-time,” she said in a blog post for the campaign. 

Erin Bast, the student representative on the RDPAA, shared how scholarships gave her encouragement and validation that she was on the right path. “It means the world to me to be able to continue going to school,” she said in a campaign video. “I can’t believe there are people out there donating to our scholarship fund to help students receive an education.” 

The Sweaters for Scholarships initiative encouraged community members to share their photos to social media on National Ugly Sweater Day, which was December 16. The fundraising campaign total of $12,600 includes all gifts made to support scholarships with the campaign page remaining open for donations through the end of the calendar year. 

Online gifts made before midnight on December 31 are eligible for a charitable tax receipt, and campaign staff hope that this incentive will inspire other community members to consider continuing to support scholarships even though National Ugly Sweater Day has passed.