March Guest Blog: EAWR Foundation: “Keeping That Oiler Spirit Alive!”

The EAWR Foundation was founded in January 2011 as a way of providing extra resources for our school and students that the district might not be able to afford. Since then, it has engaged in outreach to wonderful alumni and community members, many of whom are lovingly devoted to Wood River High.

The Foundation is governed by the Board of Directors appointed by the school board, but which is independent of the school board in most legal respects. It is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation that is registered with the State of Illinois. The founding Board of Directors in 2011 was Merle Bassett, Jean Bruce, Susan Broadway, Leroy Emerick, Bob Kasten, John Pearson, Erin Phillips, Leigh Robinson, and Henry Studnicki.

The Foundation got off to a running start, with it’s first direct mailing fundraising campaign (2011) netting $11,275 in its discretionary account. Also, given its IRS status, the Foundation has also been the choice of several local scholarship funds, that were started by our friends who wished to give back (the Eunice and Elmer St. Peters Scholarship; the Dale Studnicki Memorial Scholarship; the Shirley Waide Drama Scholarship; the Scott King Art Scholarship; the Merle Bassett Memorial Scholarship; the Toni Fry-Hilgert Memorial Scholarship, and the Orville & Kathleen Brunjes Scholarship). Our donors have also given through memorials (including Dr. Harold Hudson, Darrell Franklin) or graduating classes (such as the class of 1961).

The Foundation’s furthest donation came from a former exchange student from Italy. Also, The Bank of Edwardsville and First Cloverleaf Bank (1st Mid-America Bank) have both given large donations for specific projects (new stage curtains, electronic marquee, etc.)

Some donors give through their company’s matching grants (Boeing, General Electric are a couple of examples). And, some of our most generous donors have given gifts of over $1,000 with some of those donors having done that repeatedly. Also, many of our donors give smaller but still cherished amounts of support. As a matter of fact, the Foundation has different levels representing range of giving (Gold, Maroon, Oiler, Friend of EAWR)

Some of the more notable Foundation purchases and donations have been (see photos below): 1) 10 iPads for classroom use ($5,800 – 2012); 2) New Auditorium stage curtains ($12,000 – 2014, with $3,000 of that coming from The Bank of Edwardsville and First Cloverleaf Banks combined); 3) A new “drum line” drum sets for the marching band ($10,000 – 2014); 4) A set of professional cameras for our student Yearbook photographers ($1,020 – 2014); 5) The new electronic marquee ($22,500 – also aided by a $5,000 gift from The Bank of Edwardsville); 6) Funds for the Chess Club ($100 – 2015); 7) A 65” HD TV for the Cafeteria ($800 – 2016); 9) With a matching grant from the Oiler Booster Club, a new stage mat for basketball games ($700 – 2017); 10) Window A/C units for the top floor classrooms ($10,200 – 2017); 11) With the immense help of memorial funds from the Orville and Kathleen memorial trust, the purchase of a new football scoreboard ($28,000 – 2018).

Other Foundation donations have been made behind the scenes for the direct benefit of students (e.g. articles of clothing, tuition to HOBY camps), and some student clubs (such as the Spirit Club).

The Foundation relies on several giving and fundraising sources: Direct giving; memorial bequests; matching donations from certain corporate programs; sale of commemorative bricks for the Brick Display in front of the Memorial Gym; proceeds from the bi-annual cash raffle; et al.

The Foundation has raised over $119,000 in general giving (not including scholarship funds) since its inception and has big projects and “wish lists” being developed right now.

The EAWR Foundation is proud to support the students and activities of East Alton – Wood River Community High School. After all …

“It’s great to belong to Wood River High,
To know good fellowship.
A friendly smile, a word worthwhile,
A song on every lip.
He profits the most who serves the best, with love & loyalty,
So, here’s a song to help along,
Hurrah for Victory!”

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