by Russ Hembrey
Donna Deaton could be called the “Sugar Mama” for Wister Public Schools.
Her creative fundraising idea of a cotton candy machine has paid off for the school in a big way…one bag at a time. The sugar-rush business has exploded, much like the circulation of her student news department.
Donna’s husband owns a small online community news organization, giving her unique insight into the news business. The school picked up on this and surprised Donna with the school newspaper assignment. Undaunted, Donna added journalism to her teaching menu and never looked back. Her first order of business was raising money for her department which led to the sweet idea. Donna pitched the idea of spending $500 on a cotton candy machine to her administration. Fortunately, they licked their chops at the possibility of extra revenue.
“It was a leap of faith for me and the school to spend this money,” Deaton said.
That initial investment has more than paid off, netting as much as a mouth-watering $400 at a single event, and nearly always clearing at least $100.
“Now I use the machine for the other organizations that I sponsor like Literati, the WHS book club,” Deaton said. “It has paid off every time.”
Deaton’s news circulation has spun out like the silky treat that her staff pedals at sporting events. It started with stuffing a color newsletter in the school kids’ backpacks. Then, the local library began feeding her news sheets into their monthly newsletters. Now, the county newspaper includes the student stories when they’re hungry for content.
“The kids just love to see their work in a ‘real’ newspaper,” Deaton said. “Everybody wins.”