The South Colonie chapter of Dollars for Scholars held its biannual phone-a-thon last month, raising around $3,000 to help graduating Colonie Central High School students with some of the financial hardships of college.
On Wednesday, Nov. 19, and Thursday, Nov. 20, Dollars for Scholars held its fall phone-a-thon at the South Colonie School District main offices at Loralee Drive from 6 to 8 p.m. High school students from the Key Club and National Honors Society read from scripts as they called South Colonie residents and alumni to explain the Dollars for Scholars program and ask for pledges.
Thirty Colonie High students manned the phones in groups of two under the guidance of current Dollars for Scholars president Tami Sherry and other program board members. Pizza Maré and Price Chopper donated food and drinks for the students.
After two hours of work each night, the program reach its goal of $3,000 for the two-night event, but Sherry expects that number to go up as checks are mailed in and voice mails are answered. The money raised in this phone-a-thon will go to students graduating in May 2015, while the spring phone-a-thon will raise scholarships for students graduating the following year.
Each year, the program raises around $25,000 to give to about 50 graduating seniors at Colonie Central High School’s awards night at the end of the academic year.
“South Colonie Dollars for Scholars is a not for profit organization. We’ve been in existence for a while. … We started in 2003 with three scholarships. Last year, we gave out 41 scholarships with $23,150 raised,” said Sherry.
Most scholarships given are for one year, but can sometimes span multiple years at a two- or four-year colleges. Often, they are given out based on volunteer work, although some may be specifically geared toward the sciences, the Key Club, or athletics.
The program is run by a board of 11 adult volunteers. Board members do not know the name of the student receiving the scholarship until the student has already been contacted in order to ensure that no bias is given.
Dollars for Scholars relies on year-round events, like the phone-a-thons, to help raise the money for the scholarships.
The program also recently held a McDonald’s night on Tuesday, Dec. 2, at the McDonald’s at 106 Wolf Road, where many Colonie High School students frequent after school. The annual event has previously been held at the restaurant on Central Avenue, ever since the location opened and donated $1,500 to Dollars for Scholars, and a scholarship for a graduating North Colonie senior.
For three hours, Dollars for Scholars and students from the Key Club and National Honors Society were at the McDonald’s to help package french fries and pass out orders and winning raffle baskets. In return, Dollars for Scholars received 10 percent of the proceeds from the night.
Students also volunteered for the program at the high school’s annual craft fair on Saturday, Nov. 22. The volunteering is taken into account when program board members go through the process of handing out the scholarships.
More information on the South Colonie Chapter of Dollars for Scholars can be found on the program’s website at southcolonie.dollarsforscholars.org, where students can also find online applications.