In their 35th year of fundraising, Memorial High School students poured their hearts into raising money for The HALO Project as they raised over $608,000 for the more than 10,000 children needing help escaping abuse and neglect in the state of Oklahoma.
With more than 25% of the state foster care system in Oklahoma County, The HALO Project’s mission is to “heal children from hard places in need.”
Three Memorial co-chairs led the Student Council members in the week’s activities that started early in the year with the Hog Jog, a golf tournament, 3-on-3 basketball, and an auction. They culminated with a week of eating puppy chow and performing “dares” as well as assemblies where the students and faculty joined in raising money for a worthy cause.
The co-chairs were seniors Brooke Guarry, Michael Forhan, and junior Abby Kirby.
“Hoggywood was the theme used to unite the week and the students as we raised money for HALO,” Michael said. “Feb. 25 we raised over $25,000 with a matching donor giving $25,000. In total we raised over $50,000 in one day, and it was so exciting.”
After pouring over 65 applications from various non-profit organizations, the Swine Week chairs decided on the top three, said Student Council sponsor Jeff Lovett.
“The Swine Week chairs then held in-person interviews with the top three applicants,” Lovett said. “From there the chairs narrowed it down to two organizations that came to Edmond Memorial to give a presentation to all of Student Council.”
Lovett said the Swine Week chairs and Student Council felt an immediate connection to The HALO Project and the work that they do to heal kids who have experienced different types of trauma.
“When we first found out about them we didn’t realize what an impact they made on the kids,” Abby said, “and we wanted them to be able to help kids all across Oklahoma. Right now they are only in Edmond and they want to train child welfare professionals. They have special programs to help children, children in foster care, and families needing help.”
The students visited The Halo Project headquarters on different occasions as they worked closely with Executive Director Cindy Lee, Wendy Clark, and Anna Barlow and felt like it was a true partnership from day one.
“It’s tough to formulate the right words to explain Swine Week,” Lovett said. “Society tells us that young people are lazy, self-centered, and entitled.”
The fact that students from Edmond North, Edmond Santa Fe, and Edmond Memorial High School raised over $1,500,000 for The Children's Center Rehabilitation Hospital, Fight For The Forgotten, and The HALO Project is a strong counter-example of this narrative, Lovett said.
“I just want to say, thank you to the thousands of people and local businesses who make these philanthropy weeks possible,” Lovett said.
“Thank you to the administrators and teachers who allow these students to take a week out of the school year to place less of a focus on academics and more of a focus on serving others,” Lovett added. “Thank you most of all to the students. Without your passion, your selflessness, and your hard work, these philanthropy weeks wouldn’t exist. You truly are an inspiration to us all.”
Additionally, each year, all three Edmond High Schools select one organization as a Common Thread to receive 5% of each school’s final totals. This year, the Common Thread recipient was Cleats for Kids. C4K empowers children to live healthier lifestyles and learn life lessons through sports by providing sports shoes and safe equipment to kids in need. C4K changes lives and gives underserved children hope and self-confidence.