April 21, 2018

High School Student Raises $9,000 for Library

By Walter Minkel

McKenzie Cullen, a junior at Ridgefield High School in Washington, devised a senior project that would make any librarian proud: she decided to raise enough money to help her local library start a collection of books on compact discs. And after six months, the 17-year-old exceeded her wildest expectations, raising $9,380–enough to purchase 268 CDs for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library.

Cullen conferred with library administrators in March 2002 and devised a clever fund-raising project. She then drafted a letter, with a photograph of herself, asking “Did you like to be read to as a child?,” which was mailed to 2,000 former donors and 300 randomly chosen locals based on their ZIP codes. The strategy worked–105 respondents sent more than $9,000 in checks.

James Phelps, the library’s development director, says the library had been getting requests for CD audiobooks for years but couldn’t afford them. “It’s wonderful to have a teenager step forward and take the initiative like this,” Phelps says. Ridgefield High requires its seniors to serve the community as part of their senior projects.