August 3, 2023 at 7:55 a.m.

It All Started with a Root Beer Float: SFOH 5th Anniversary Celebration Sunday

By JENN WILLHITE | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Five years ago, the Student’s Fund of Hope was launched with a vision of what could be... and a root beer float. And Sunday evening the Fund is hosting a 5th Birthday Party to celebrate five years of giving back from 5 to 7 p.m. on the Hope Town Square.

“We want to use this opportunity to thank people for helping us make this successful,” says Whitney Budd, founder of the SFOH.  

Many times, Budd says people often compliment her efforts, which she does appreciate; however, she will be the first to say, it isn’t her efforts alone.  

“This is not just me, not just my work,” Budd says. “If it couldn’t take this community of people there would be no Student’s Fund of Hope. The success lies with the people here.”

Sunday’s celebratory invitation extends to the whole community and Budd says she and the incredible volunteers of the SFOH are hopeful for a great turnout.

In addition to delicious root beer floats, there will also be bounce houses and activities that lend the evening to the promise of an opportunity for some great memories. And kiddos in attendance will have the opportunity to stock up on free school supplies, too, Budd says.

“We were able to purchase $1,000 of school supplies through some donors,” she says. “When the kids come, they can come fill their backpacks and we will have backpacks there for them, too, if they don’t have one.”

At 7 p.m. the Hope Ministerial Association will lead a prayer circle for the students, teachers and school staff. Customary to previous years, pastors from all of Hope’s area churches will be in attendance with each offering a prayer, Budd says.

Pastor John Marquis, with Hope First Wesleyan Church, will be taking part in the prayer circle -- and also representing as a volunteer SFOH board member -- and says this event is a very unique opportunity and certainly unique to the Hope community.

“This is just a great opportunity for families to come together in prayer,” Marquis says. “You don’t see towns come together for school and to have that spare time. And, so, this is just time for them to know how much they are appreciated and to give us an opportunity to give them some God love.”

Budd readily admits this moment and celebrating five years are both exciting and surreal. In fact, just speaking about it makes her a bit emotional – in a good way, of course.

“I knew the spirit of this community because it has always helped me,” Budd says. “I knew we were capable of things like this, I just did not know to the extent or how quickly we could get to where we are.”

Since 2018, the SFOH has given away approximately $310,000 to Hope-area kids in need – and the Fund is just getting started.

“I think it is a testament to the people who are here and it’s a testament to my board,” Budd says. “We are all volunteers, and no one takes a salary for this – it is something we are just very passionate about.”

From its fundraisers and community involvement to movie nights and night golf, the SFOH has certainly become a recognized staple organization in the Hope community. And Budd is the first to point out none of it could be possible without the broader community’s help and involvement making it all a reality.

Budd adds that the recent Each One, Reach One free throw event at Hauser raised more than $21,000 to cover the cost for depleted lunch accounts for the entire Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corporation. That event is just one of so many that truly demonstrates the power of community when people come together for a cause, Budd says.

“I think with a lot of likeminded people who believe in the same vision, things can get done,” Budd says. “But it is a special place like Hope that can get it done, you don’t see that very often in other places.”