2016 Dorcas Fair
It began in the early 1900s, when students at Westover School knitted socks and sweaters and donated them to nearby orphanages because the headmistress thought it was important to give back to the local community.
The tradition of giving has lasted over a century for the junior class at Westover, an all-girls school in Middlebury, which fundraises each year through the Dorcas Fund at Connecticut Community Foundation to raise money for the charities of their choice.
“It’s something that unites the whole class,” said Maggie Nuñez-Fernandez, chemistry teacher at Westover and advisor to the project.
At the beginning of the school year, the planning begins: bake sales, jeans days and pizza sales on “frugal lunch days” raise money. “Dorcas Heads” are elected to lead and decide the theme for the largest and most exciting fundraiser of the year, the Dorcas Fair, held yearly in January. Leading up to the fair, the juniors plan games and carnival activities, and make crafts, food and t-shirts to sell while soliciting alumni, parents and businesses for donations for a huge silent auction during the three-hour event.
Dorcas Heads Fiona Boyle, Yoo Jin Chi and Gracey Greco chose Peter Pan as the 2016 theme, and the fair raised over $10,500.
Said Nuñez-Fernandez, “The entire class is invested in giving back. Regardless of how much money they raise, the spirit is the same: The whole aim is to help.”
After the fair, groups of students research various charities and present the information to the entire class for a vote so they can make an informed, collective decision about their philanthropy.
In 2016, the class decided to give locally while helping causes that resonate more broadly. They selected five organizations to receive their fundraising dollars, including two that received grants from the Dorcas Fund at Connecticut Community Foundation: New Haven-based Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services and Gift of Adoption, Connecticut Chapter.
“We wanted to make an impact in our community,” said Boyle.
Nuñez-Fernandez said that fundraising and making grants through the Dorcas Fund often propel Westover graduates to philanthropic endeavors after graduation, from Waterbury (where Boyle and Greco have joined the grantmaking committee of the Foundation’s Women’s Fund) to Rwanda (where Westover alumni have helped to lift women out of poverty through baking).
Indeed, Westover’s tradition of giving back is lasting—and boundless.