Catamount Legacy Walk to benefit student emergency fund

A new fundraising effort, the Catamount Legacy Walk, is in high gear on Western Carolina University’s campus in order to raise money for a student emergency fund.

The Catamount Legacy Walk initiative was launched last fall after two years of planning, which involved tasks ranging from researching fundraising brick projects at other institutions to counting bricks in sections around the Alumni Tower, said Jane Adams-Dunford, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs.

Each $125, tax-deductible donation to the Catamount Legacy Walk will be honored with a 4-by-8-inch, reddish-orange brick paver to be engraved with a message from the donor and installed on campus. With enough donations, the first section of 300 pavers will be engraved and installed as a group near the Alumni Tower in the spring before commencement, said Adams-Dunford.

Donors also receive a commemorative certificate for each paver commissioned. Those honoring or remembering someone with their order may choose to give the certificate as recognition of their gift.

“When students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends commission a brick to honor student achievements or remember someone, they write a piece of the WCU history that will be preserved on this walk and leave a legacy for students to come,” said Adams-Dunford.

Eighty percent of each Catamount Legacy Walk donation goes directly to the WCU Division of Student Affairs Student Emergency Fund, with the remaining amount used for maintenance of the walk and Alumni Tower. The student emergency fund, which is administered by a committee, offers limited financial assistance when students are unable to meet immediate, essential expenses because of temporary hardship resulting from an emergency. To be eligible, students must be enrolled full time, have not received assistance from the fund before, and provide sufficient documentation of the financial hardship. Although the assistance provided to students by the fund is not a loan, recipients are encouraged to repay the fund if possible so that other students may also benefit.

The emergency fund is for students who encounter an unforeseen financial emergency or devastating event that would otherwise prevent them from continuing their education at WCU, said Adam-Dunford. The funds are not intended to be used for routine expenses nor as a consistent supplement to a student’s education funding sources.  Requests must be urgent in nature.

“Students have crises. We all have crises,” said Adams-Dunford. “This emergency fund can do so many wonderful things, and I hope it intervenes at the right moment so students still feel valued and supported to pursue their educational goals. If we can help in these instances, then all of the work that we have put into this project will be worth it.”

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