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Veterans Club Fundraising Drive Has A Sweet Ending

January, 2019
  • From left: Mark Blease and Manny Antwi
    QCC student veteran Mark Blease (left) holds his BBB scholarship check. (Right) Veterans Club President Manny Antwi, made these red shirts in the QCC Fab Lab.

It all started out with a candy bar.

Over four years ago when the QCC Veterans Club was newly established and they were looking for fundraising ideas they decided to sell candy bars - Hebert candy bars. While the group sold most of the candy bars, there were still some left after the fundraising drive ended. Since it was Halloween time and QCC was hosting its annual trick-or-treating event at the college, members of the club decided to give the candy bars away to children who came by. That’s when this story takes a decidedly different turn.

According to Director of Veteran Affairs Paula Ogden, it was a child who had stopped by the Veteran Affairs office that took the bar and turned to the gentlemen behind him and said, “Look grandpa it has your name on it.” A discussion ensued between QCC student veteran Desiree Vinson and “grandpa,” who happened to be one of the owners of Hebert Candies. He said he was part of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and that perhaps there was something they could do to help. He gave Ms. Vinson a contact at the BBB and that’s when Ms. Ogden took over.

“I called the BBB every few weeks telling them the benefits of helping veterans, perhaps helping fund books,” she said.

For the better part of a year and a half Ms. Ogden went back and forth with her contact at the BBB discussing possible scenarios on how the BBB could help out. Finally in 2015, the BBB began Veteran & Service Member Textbook Scholarship. The first year the scholarship awarded three students $500 each. Today the BBB of Central New England and BBB's Consumer Education Foundation awards $500 each to up to eight veteran or service member students attending a university or college within BBB's service area of Central and Western MA and Northeast CT.

“We’ve always had a scholarship winner since this began,” Ms. Ogden continued, noting that this year’s winner is QCC student veteran Mark Blease.

Mr. Blease, who works part-time in the Veteran Affairs office, is an Army veteran who is planning to graduate from QCC with an Engineering degree this May. His goal is to move onto a 4-year college and most likely major in nuclear engineering. He said he was extremely happy to find out he had won the scholarship.

“Paula mentioned the scholarship when I was in the Veteran Affairs office and suggested I try for it,” he said. “There were 12 questions and I researched the answers to each one on the BBB website.”

Mr. Blease said that while it took some time to fill out the questions, it was certainly worth it.

“I probably spent more time than most people would have but it was pretty straightforward and all the answers were findable. They were business related questions and not too hard. I’d tell anyone to do it, why not?”

In other Veteran Affairs News - Red Shirt Fridays 

RED Friday (Remember Everyone Deployed) or Red shirt Fridays is a campaign to show solidarity and support for all men and women in the United States military. Red symbolizes the blood spilled by the brave men and women of the United States military and is a reminder of their sacrifice. Red Fridays is not intended as a political statement, just a nice way for Americans to show they support the people who serve our country. 

"If you were not already aware of Red Friday, please spread the word," said Ms. Ogden. "We hope to see everyone wearing red on Fridays."