November 8, 2016

SVSU students support Hidden Harvest to the tune of $26K during Battle of the Valleys

Saginaw Valley State University students showed their passion to help their community. The streak continues.

For the ninth consecutive year, SVSU won the annual week-long Battle of the Valleys fundraising competition with Grand Valley State University.

“I’m so impressed with the dedication everyone showed all week long during this fundraiser,” said Samantha McKenzie, whose nonprofit benefited from SVSU’s $26,000.25 in collections. “Everyone did a fantastic job.”

McKenzie, president and CEO of Hidden Harvest, said the funds will support her Saginaw-based organization's mission of supplying Great Lakes Bay food pantries while also helping it develop a partnership with the Diaper Alliance, a Midland-based nonprofit that provides diapers to families in need.

“Student and community support like this makes our big goals and aspirations seem possible,” McKenzie said.

The competition kicked off Sunday, Oct. 30 and concluded when the collection totals were announced at halftime of the football game between SVSU and GVSU Saturday, Nov. 5 at SVSU’s Harvey Randall Wickes Memorial Stadium.

Emma Eldred, an SVSU nursing major from Lake Isabella and the philanthropy chairperson for the SVSU Student Association, wept for joy when she learned her university’s inspired effort would preserve a prized bragging right.

“It was a great feeling,” Eldred said. “So much work went into that effort.”

Battle of the Valleys 2016 was “one of the most rewarding” — and most challenging — experiences of Eldred’s life. Along with coordinating the initiative’s daily lineup of events, she also had a demanding week academically with two exams and nursing clinical placements, in addition to regular classes.

“Luckily, I had so much help from my committee and friends on Battle of the Valleys,” she said. “It was all worth it.”

Over the 14-year history of Battle of the Valleys, SVSU students have now supported community causes with a combined $357,329 in donations.

This year, GVSU students raised $17,000 for Laker Children’s Fund, a nonprofit that awards grants for Kent and Ottawa county-based organizations specializing in childhood health programs. In total, the two universities have collected $552,150 since 2003.