Because the Arcadia McDonald’s restaurant is one of Florida’s best in collecting donations for any number of programs and causes—including the Ronald McDonald House Charities—gathering cash for scholarships is a natural fit.
The Change for a Change education drive this year collected nearly $3,000 for the DeSoto County Education Foundation’s program that awards scholarship help to qualifying students. The program last year collected about $1,700 for kids pursuing “blue-collar” professions.
The scholarship program at the fastfood diner is co-sponsored by Tim Vowels and Matthew Anderson—Vowels the restaurant’s co-owner with his wife, Pamela, Anderson Arcadia’s police marshal. The men ask friends, co-workers and others to solicit customer change and other donations. Collections can get fun, with one auxiliary police officer last year lighting his patrol car at the McDonald’s to bring awareness to the cause. That officer, Michael Waller, this year has a scholarship in his honor. And Arcadian Brandi Long with The Williamson Group Realty family this year presented a $500 check toward the fund.
DeSoto students, in turn, supply essays and recommendations in their applications, which are reviewed by Vowels, Anderson and their team. This program is geared to students pursuing a career in trade skills, firefighters, cops and other such work.
DeSoto teachers, administrators and counselors direct students to the scholarship program, which this year brought about two dozen applicants. The submission deadline is April 24 and those chosen will be announced at a May 17 senior awards ceremony at the Turner Center.
Vowels was surprised at the submissions, the character students can display in their writing, he said. Some essays, he said, are “very difficult to read. A lot of heartfelt information ... it really hurts [you].”
Anderson was pleased the funding drive nearly doubled in its second year. “It’s another way of our community giving back, just a win-win-win,” he said.
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