Faculty member learns about impact of charitable contributions, both big and small

Erin Adams speaks with a WCU student and a faculty member during an undergraduate research event. She says she has a newfound appreciation for the impact of a charitable donation and urges other university employees to give to the State Employees Combined Campaign.

Erin Adams, associate professor and coordinator of Western Carolina University’s Interior Design Program, says she has contributed to charitable causes through the annual State Employees Combined Campaign in past years, but this time, it’s personal.

The SECC is the only officially sanctioned fund drive conducted on WCU’s campus for outside organizations. WCU’s campaign began Oct. 10 and continues until Friday, Dec. 8.

Adams said she has given what she considers to be an insignificant amount of money to the campaign in past years, and she often wondered if it was enough to make a difference for anyone, anywhere.

Adams was the guest speaker recently as Lettie Cooper, WCU’s campaign chair, and other campaign volunteers got together for their kick-off meeting.

“Recently, my brother was placed on the National Organ Transplant List,” Adams said. “As my family struggled with the realities of how to finance the almost $500,000 transplant surgery, we were introduced to the National Kidney Foundation. This organization is funded by donations and gave my brother his life back.

“The National Kidney Foundation covered all costs for the transplant procedure, with me as the donor and my brother as the recipient,” Adams said. “I am thrilled to announce that my brother is now the proud owner of a fully functioning, gently used kidney. My brother and I are the grateful recipients of others’ generosity, and I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that our donations do have the power to make a huge difference in people’s lives.”

Cooper said she hopes Adams’ story will resonate with all employees and they will join in to support this year’s campaign.

“The State Employees Combined Campaign gives WCU employees the opportunity to have a great impact on the lives of others through charity,” said Cooper, technology support analyst in the Division of Information Technology. “By donating through the SECC, we can make a powerful difference for a cause that is important to us while also being part of a larger philanthropic effort with significant impact.”

Across the state, the SECC has provided more than $100 million in support for worthy causes since it began in 1985. Last year, more than 18,000 state employees contributed to the campaign. No state funds are used during the effort, and this year, nearly 1,000 charities are eligible for contributions.

WCU employees will be receiving a pledge form and giving guide from their division’s team captain. The option of donating online also is available. An Oct. 10 email sent to faculty and staff contains a personal link to the SECC ePledge site. Another email was sent Oct. 31 with a link to ePledge.

Last year, the WCU community raised more than $34,000 through the SECC, and the goal for this year’s campaign is $30,000, Cooper said.

“No matter what you give, time or money, no matter how big or small the donation, every little bit makes a difference,” she said. “Together, our donations are making a powerful and positive impact for our local, national and global communities.”

Assisting Cooper in leading this year’s campaign are vice chair Jane Adams-Dunford, assistant vice chancellor in the Division of Student Affairs, and Joyce Carpenter, an executive assistant in Advancement who is handling the administrative aspects.

For more information, visit the SECC website at ncsecc.org or contact Cooper at lfcooper@wcu.edu.