Ceci Carmichael

Madison White

“I invite you all to join me in supporting Whittier College today in the Big Poet Give. Just imagine what would happen if we all gave just a little bit,” said Blogilates fitness guru and Whittier College alumni Cassey Ho. She kicked off the 2017 Big Poet Give with a cheerful Twitter video encouraging followers to donate to the College. 

Johnny Poet and Joe Price count up donors for the Big Poet Give

Johnny Poet and Joe Price count up donors for the Big Poet Give

The Big Poet Give is an annual fundraiser event where students, faculty, parents, and alumni give back to the Whittier College community by donating money. The donations help sustain the College, which is largely tuition based and does not receive an endowment. Donors can select the area where they want their money to go to. Some of the options were Scholarships, Athletics, Whittier Scholars Program, Library resources, and even the “Area of Greatest Need,” where the College decides how to allocate the money based on need. A majority of donors gave their donation to the Whittier Fund, which is the highest funding priority on campus.

The 2017 Big Poet Give took place on March 29 in the Campus Courtyard, filled with balloons and signs flagging down potential donors. The on-campus tent was primarily for students, who were encouraged to donate as much as they’d like in order to up the donor count, with a minimum donation of one dollar. “Our hope was that on this day, Whittier students learn about the generosity of our alumni and parents and get to enjoy the day’s festivities,”said Eva Sevcikova, the coordinator of Big Poet Give with the Office of Advancement, and Whittier College alumni. 

Current student Daisy Rodriguez, @daisyflowers, tweeted, “I support the Big Poet Give @WhittierCollege.” 

Although asking current students to donate money to the institution they already pay into, the original goal was to have 500 donors donate any amount they could to unlock an additional $50,000 for students. “No matter what amount anyone gave, they made a difference and helped us reach our participation goal.” 

At 500 donors, a music video was released featuring Johnny Poet, various professors, and students. The music video was set to Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling.” 

Courtesy of Whittier College

Courtesy of Whittier College

For those not on campus, texting and online mediums like Paypal became an acceptable way to donate. Free beanies were also given to donors, and were so popular that the College has ordered more. Ice cream was handed out on campus, and drinks were given to donors at Setá restaurant in Uptown Whittier.

At 1,000 donors, Whittier College alumni and entrepreneur Jascha Kaykas-Wolff pledged to donate $20,000 in the hopes of increasing alumni turnout on the Big Poet Give. Kaykas-Wolff and his family designated their funds to the area of greatest need.“We have great confidence that the administration has a solid plan to support Whittier’s continued success,” said Kaykas-Woolf. “I’ve supported the school through my involvement as an alumni ambassador and Poet Council member and I’ve recently joined the Board of Trustees. While I’ve supported giving on the Big Poet Give in the past, this is the first time my family has supported with a challenge grant.” 

Many alumni see the Big Poet Give as a rite of passage, Whittier College alumni Josh Ryan, known on Twitter as @jreqee, tweeted, “Happy to finally start giving back to my alma mater @WhittierCollege! Go Whittier and Go @Penn_Society! #BigPoetGive.” A total of 1,107 donors gave $317,871 to Whittier College in 2017. The donations topped last year, which was reported in at $163,000.

Even though the event is officially over, raising funds to benefit students, faculty, and our campus is an ongoing effort. Anyone interested in contributing with a tax-deductible gift cango to www.whittier.edu/GiveOnline or text the word POET to 41444 from their smart phone.