Friday, September 25, 2020

Project Graduation 2021 fundraising efforts greatly affected by COVID-19

By Ed Pierce

Parents and volunteers for Windham High School's
Project Graduation 2021 are exploring new ways
to fundraise as a result of event cancellations
because of the pandemic. To support the effort,
send a check made out to WHSPH2021 to
2 Whispering Pines Road, Windham, Maine
04062 or they have a VENMO account at

For more than four decades, Project Graduation has captured the imagination of graduating high school seniors and that includes making a significant and positive impact on the lives of graduates from right here at Windham High School.  

Each year, the Project Graduation program provides graduating seniors with a safe, drug and alcohol-free event to celebrate their academic accomplishments. Plans for next spring’s event are already underway by the Windham High School Class of 2021 Project Graduation Committee, a dedicated group of volunteers and parents of senior students.   

However, like many other community activities, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created a challenge for the Project Graduation committee to fundraise for the annual event, although organizers say that they are committed to continuing this long standing tradition even in the face of a global pandemic. 

“These unprecedented times have impacted all our lives. It has impacted Project Graduation fundraising plans and events, most of which were either cancelled or postponed,” said Kathy Pepin, president of the Windham High School Class of 2021 Project Graduation Committee. “The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted our students as they enter their Senior year. There has never been an incoming class of high school seniors who have faced such uncertainty, and unimaginable challenges. Students gain many life skills during their senior year as they prepare for the next chapter of their lives.”

Pepin said that Project Graduation does not receive public funds, it relies solely on fundraising, and kind and generous donations from the Windham and Raymond residents and business community.

“As we began our fundraising efforts in April of this year, the pandemic cancelled the Windham Youth Soccer (WYSA) recreation program, and therefore cancelled Project Grad’s proceeds from running the concession stand,”  Pepin said. “The WYSA fall season is in swing however the decline in registrations and the reconfiguration of games due to the pandemic has meant a decline in concession sales.”

According to Pepin, last fall the Class of 2020 raised more than $1,300 dollars from WYSA concession sales, but so far the Class of 2021 is only on track to make less than half of that amount.

“We also lost fundraising events such as Summerfest, Windham High School Football 50/50 raffle, the homecoming dance, the craft fair pie sales and cash raffles, and most likely the Windham High School Basketball 50/50 raffle,” she said. “We are usually able to have several restaurants and businesses host a night-out event with a percentage of the sales being donated to Project Graduation, yet due to the pandemic affecting so many business, they are not financially able to help as in years past.”

The group also has seen significantly less sponsorships and donations for the Annual Project Graduation Golf Tournament that will be conducted at Spring Meadows on Nov. 1.

“While it has been a huge struggle to find creative ways to raise money, we are doing our best to rise to the task,” Pepin said. “Gale Savard and I have been making face masks since May and have raised close to $4,000 for Project Graduation. “We have also donated masks to Windham Primary School, Manchester School, Windham Middle School and Windham High School at the start of the year to assist our community.”

She said that the group just had a very successful mum sale with the assistance of Skillins Greenhouse in Falmouth where they sold more than 1,200 mums. And last weekend they hosted a small fundraising gathering for Scrapbookers at North Union Church in North Windham and was able to socially distance and provide a safe environment to craft.

“We hope to do another scrapbooking event next March,” Pepin said. “For upcoming fundraisers, we will continue our face mask sales, we are selling Windham Eagle Pride Stainless Steel 32-ounce tumblers for hot and cold drinks, a Silent Auction will be held Oct. 5 through Oct. 12, we are hosting a Paint Night on Sunday, Sept. 27 at the North Union Church, and the Annual Golf Tournament on Nov.

For more information regarding these events please visit; its Facebook page WHS Project Graduation 2021; send an email to

“The Class of 2021 has faced and will continue to encounter many challenges due to the pandemic,” Pepin said. “However, with the support of the Windham/Raymond community, the Class of 2021 will make it through and be a strong, resilient, shining beacon of future business owners, civic leaders, healthcare workers, first responders, members of our Armed Forces, and most of all caring citizens who will someday say they grew up during a pandemic. The caring and generosity of their community will leave a lasting mark on their lives.”  

Pepin and members of the Windham High School 2021 Project Graduation Committee are asking the public to please consider contributing to Project Graduation 2021, and no amount is too small.

“We do have a Venmo account, windhamprojectgrad2021, or checks can be made out to WHSPG2021 and mailed to Dana McKenna at 2 Whispering Pines Road, Windham, ME 04062,” Pepin said. <

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