WSU campaign raises money for students during pandemic


FAIRBORN — A crowd-funding campaign is helping Wright State University students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students shared their stories when they applied for grants from the Wright State Student Emergency Relief Campaign. They said things like:

“The coronavirus caused me to lose both my jobs and left me with little to no money. Rent was due six days ago, and I have only paid a portion of my rent. I am currently out of money. The rest of the money I had I spent on groceries.”

“I used to work on campus at Starbucks to meet my monthly needs. Since my home country is in complete lockdown and the banks are not open, my parents couldn’t do an international transfer during this time. This situation is tough and I couldn’t afford to buy groceries.”

“Due to COVID-19, I lost my job on a day’s notice. My parents are helping me where they can, but they are also laid off. I have used most of the money in my savings account to pay rent and have maxed out my credit card to buy groceries.”

“Because of the global pandemic, I am now out of work. I worked in retail and since we are not essential, we are closed down until further notice. Work was my only source of income. I have no extra money to spend on things I need the most, mainly groceries and toiletries. I’m not sure where my next meal may come from.”

Bill Bigham, interim vice president for advancement, said the school’s students have been hit hard by the pandemic.

“They have lost wages and many are struggling with food insecurity,” Bigham said. “We appreciate all of the generous donors who have stepped up to help our students during this incredibly difficult time.”

The online crowd-funding campaign, which ran from March 20 to April 22, generated $62,287 in gifts from 529 Wright State University alumni, faculty, staff and community partners. The Wright State University Foundation provided an additional $5,000 in challenge grants, bringing the final campaign tally to $67,287.

“The Wright State University Foundation is proud to be part of this important initiative,” said Scott Rash, president and CEO of the Wright State University Foundation. “Our students need our help now more than ever before. We hope the grants from the Wright State Student Emergency Relief Campaign will help ease the burden on our students as they continue to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Donations to the Student Emergency Relief Campaign are being used to assist students with purchasing toiletries, medications and other essential supplies. The university also utilized campaign funds to purchase more than $17,000 in gift cards to help Wright State students buy groceries.

As one of the leading donors to the Student Emergency Relief Campaign, the Dayton Foundation directed their gift to the Raider Food Pantry.

“The ability for students to learn and continue their pursuit of higher education degrees has been challenged during these times, and students who are food insecure are doubly challenged,” said Barbra Stonerock, vice president of community engagement for the Dayton Foundation and a member of the COVID-19 Response Fund for the Greater Dayton Grants Committee. “It is our hope that this partnership with Wright State’s Raider Food Pantry helps to ease this burden for students in need.”

The mental health of students is also a paramount concern as the university’s Counseling and Wellness Services continues to provide assistance via telephone and Webex. The office is averaging 164 sessions per week since shifting to teletherapy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the Levin Family Foundation made a contribution to the Student Emergency Relief Campaign, they directed that their gift be used for counseling and wellness services.

“It is critical for students to have access to counseling and wellness services during this pandemic when our entire world as we know it is changing,” said Karen Levin, executive director of the Levin Family Foundation. “The human connection of mental health counseling is of utmost importance during this period of high stress with no immediate end in sight.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, additional assistance for Wright State students will be crucial.

“We will continue to raise funds in the coming weeks to help our students,” said Bigham. “Even though the initial Student Emergency Relief Campaign was a tremendous success, the needs of our students are still immense.”

More than 860 Wright State students have sought some form of emergency assistance, Bigham said.