Tips on Putting the Fun into Fundraising!  An Interview with West Islip Spanish teacher Noreen Matthews.

 In Educators


  1. Can you tell us about your school and why you decided it was important to take a Squad Abroad?

West Islip High School is on Long Island, just 40 miles east of Manhattan.  I am taking my first squad to Peru with Squads Abroad because I think it is important for my students to get the experience to see how other people live around the world.  I volunteered with CCS 3 times- Russia (2004), Tanzania (2005) and Brazil (2009). Those experiences shaped me in so many ways that I wanted to inspire my students to travel and give back as well.  Since then, I have taken 7 teams to Guatemala for a week with another organization. While there we build a house and participate in cultural immersion activities. I am proud to witness the transformation of my students during the week and the years after.  I was thrilled when I learned that CCS has a HS student travel program and I am eager to take my first squad in August.


  1. What destination will you be traveling to and why did your Squad choose that destination?

I am taking a Squad to Peru because it is somewhere that I have never been.  I wanted to stick to the Western Hemisphere so my choices were limited to Peru, Guatemala and Costa Rica.  Peru was the logical choice and the best part is that we will be visiting Machu Picchu after the week of volunteering.  

  1. We understand you’ve been very successful at fundraising! Can you give us a summary of the events that you’ve planned so far?

We are running 3 fundraising events.  

(1)  Paint night.  We painted a Peruvian scene that my friend designed based on a few online images.  We had 30 people at the event and made $20 per person so we raised $600.  

(2) Car Wash- Although it was a gloomy day, we still managed to raise $400.  The best outcome of the car wash was the team building and bonding that we created during the day.

(3) Comedy Night- June 14th- we are hoping this will be our biggest success.  A local comedy club gives us tickets to sell for $20. We get to keep the entire amount and each person is simply required to buy 2 drinks minimum.  They make money off of the food and drink tab and we make the money from the ticket sales. win-win. We also sell raffle baskets and 50/50 tickets. Last year we raised over $2000 just at that one event.  We are hoping for the same this year. We figure that any money raised beyond the amount expected for our team requirement can go to help offset the cost of the trip for the students.


  1. What has been the most fruitful fundraising event?

Comedy night


  1. What advice would you give to other Squads who may be struggling with their fundraising efforts?

Although it seems tough at first, take things in small steps.  Find 2-3 events to focus on. Small things here and there add up, but it is alot of work to just get a couple of hundred dollars at one event.  Bake sales are not going to cut it. Focus on the events that can bring in the most money. We have found that tapping into adults is the most successful.  


  1. How has fundraising been a bonding experience for your Squad?

I think fundraising is a critical part of the overall experience.  It accomplishes two things. First, we have the opportunity to bond before the trip.  We have planning meetings and it helps us become a “family.” Secondly, it gives us a purpose and brings meaning to the tasks that we will complete while in country.  


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