Not all of the knowledge acquired in college comes from a classroom.
Since 2011, students of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Nonprofit Sales Promotion and Event Planning and Marketing Communications courses have hosted an event on behalf of a charity. Since then, students have raised over $ 40,000 in cash and merchandise donations for local River Falls charities including Assistance & Resource Center (ARC), Our Neighbors’ Place and River Falls Food Pantry.
The Fall 2021 Students, Sales Promotions and Event Planning Course are gearing up for this year’s event, Gift & Thrift, which will take place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, December 1 at the University of Wisconsin River Falls University Center at the Falcon’s Nest.
This year’s event will feature a silent auction of handmade gifts and lightly used clothing on behalf of the local River Falls charity Turningpoint For Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence. For more information on the event, see the Facebook event page, facebook.com/giftandthriftuwrf.
For the past 10 years, students have helped national charities including the Salvation Army and Wounded Warriors, and partnered with Random Acts to deliver Christmas gifts to victims of the 2017 hurricanes in Puerto Rico.
“The first class sponsored event raised socks and funds for the victims of the 2011 Japanese tsunami,” said instructor Dave Bonko. “We hosted an evening of music performed by students, including a fabulous Weezer cover band, at a local restaurant. I think I spent over $ 300 to ship about 75 pounds of socks and slippers to Japan in three big boxes. The event also raised over $ 1,000. Bonko believes students benefit from the blend of experiential and traditional learning methods.
“Students today like to learn by rolling up their sleeves and ‘doing’ rather than reading a case study or watching PowerPoint presentations. The course is more focused on preparing students for the real world situations they may face in the job market. Students must communicate with business professionals, work as a team, and most importantly, experience new adventures while making connections along the way. Sometimes they can feel a little uncomfortable and unsure; however, these are certainly emotions felt when planning an event.
Cassandra Chmielewski, a recent marketing communications graduate from UWRF and now Alumni Memorial Union graduate assistant at Marquette University, echoed Bonko’s sentiments.
“I loved the sales promotions and the event planning course. I can’t begin to express how many times I referred to this class as an example in my job interview, ”she said. “I hope the students can realize how beneficial and impactful the class is. “
Greta Simmons, currently a Marketing Communications major at UWRF, works in sales promotion and event planning.
“I like Bonko’s course because it gives students the ability to plan a live event and have real-world hands-on experience,” Simmons said.