The idea was simple. With a few smiles, a silly conversation hatched into a solution for fundraising for the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Staff Association’s scholarship. 

When the association’s Communications Committee met to discuss ideas for creating a website, the talk veered to fur, claws, beaks, scales, and fins. 

“We were just having some fun discussing what sections we needed for the association’s website,” said committee member Randa Freeborn, an administrative assistant in the Office of the Dean. “And we talked about creating a page for staff pets.”

Freeborn, who also serves as the association’s secretary and is on the Scholarship Committee, had mentioned how hard it is to raise funds without raffles or in-person events. From there, the idea to create a calendar featuring staff and faculty pets began to form.

Committee members believe a pet calendar could go a long way in helping raise the funds needed to support the scholarship. Each year, the association awards funding to a deserving student within the college based on academics, community service, and need. 

Small, brown dog cuddled in blanket
James Madison — another of Dean Laura Belmonte’s presidential pups — hopes everyone will order a pet calendar to support the Staff Association Scholarship.

Pets are an underlying unifying force within the college and play an important role in the lives of all who have the honor of living with them. Dean Laura Belmonte’s presidential pups, Willy and James — more formally known as William Howard Taft and James Madison — serve as mascots to the college. 

Freeborn brought the idea of a pet calendar to the Scholarship Committee, whose members immediately began planning the logistics involved with such an endeavor. With the support of LaTawnya Burleson, senior advancement associate in the Office of the Dean and president of the Staff Association, the fundraiser became a reality. 

The association invites all college staff and faculty to submit one favorite photo each of their pets for inclusion into the calendar. The committee hopes to include as many as possible on the front and back covers. 

John Ross, an alumnus of the School of Education and the current president of the New River Valley Fine Arts Center, will jury the submissions for individual month pages.

To submit an entry, use the online form. Photos should be 300 dpi. The deadline to enter is Friday, Nov. 13. 

“This is a great opportunity to have your pet featured,” said scholarship committee member Cynthia Peecher, budget manager for both the Department of Religion and Culture and the Department of Science, Technology, and Society. “Whether the photo is beautiful, funny, or heart-warming — we want to see your pet shine.” 

The cost is $15 per calendar with the proceeds going to the scholarship fund. Checks can be sent to the Staff Association, in care of LaTawnya Burleson or Brandon Dove, at 200 Stanger Street, Blacksburg, VA 24061 (Mail Code 0426). The committee is taking pre-orders until Dec. 4, 2020. The committee will deliver them through campus mail on or after Dec. 21. Calendars may also be purchased without submitting a photo.

“We hope all the staff and faculty will support this effort,” Burleson said. “We want to continue our tradition of helping students succeed.” 

Written by Leslie King