By Brandon Hansen / For Nisqually Valley News
The Yelm Dollars for Scholars program has collected and distributed over $2.5 million in scholarships to Yelm High School graduates since 1991.
The program holds many fundraisers throughout the year to raise funds for their scholarships, which are open to all Yelm graduates. Scholarships are awarded based on merit.
“Having a program like this is so important because it’s a long-standing tradition that brings our community together to support Yelm’s graduating class,” said Yelm Dollar for Scholars President Dan Huttmann. . “It really shows what a great community we live in.”
Huttmann added that those in the program don’t need to have their own senior student.
“They just want to give back to a great cause for all children,” Huttmann said. “It’s very important for students because it’s a student-centered scholarship. It is also important for students because it is the only scholarship opportunity that is open to all Yelm students who wish to further their education. This can be through college or trade school.
Scholarships are awarded on a weighted scale of academic achievement, goal setting, community and academic involvement, and an interactive “professional-style” interview with each applicant. Students can apply for scholarships by creating an online student profile at yelm.dollarsforscholars.org.
As for fundraising, volunteers work on the annual Pumpkin Patch and Taste of the Prairie events from October to February soliciting donations from local businesses.
“The feedback from the community is always great. From the pumpkin patch to the Taste of the Prairie, our community has come together to support our seniors,” said Huttmann. “Even with COVID, we’ve been able to bring the kids our annual auction and the Yelm community has stepped up. We changed the format of the annual auction and the community continued to rally and support. That being said, last year we had a record year for fundraising.
The group also plans its annual auction.
“The culmination of our fundraising activities is the annual March Madness auction,” Huttmann said. “The auction is a popular winter attraction for the Yelm community, including a week-long virtual silent auction that precedes an all-night interactive live auction dinner.”
Volunteers also work on the workings of the scholarship program and also manage applications.
Those who want to get involved can email [email protected] to join the organization’s mailing list. They can also attend the group’s monthly planning meetings, which take place every third Tuesday of the month.
For more information on the program, follow them on Facebook or Instagram. Upcoming events, meetings and activities will be posted.