TV stations have tremendous power to make a change in their community. So when three Girls Scouts and a parent were killed by an impaired driver while cleaning up a section of highway in Wisconsin, WEAU, Gray’s NBC affiliate in Eau Claire, organized a fundraiser. “Our goal was to raise $40,000 so we could hit the full $40,000 match. We exceeded the goal by $3,201,” said Andrew Felix, WEAU’s creative services director. “WEAU adopted the mantra ‘Community First’ in 2009. WEAU’s commitment to community goes beyond a slogan; it reflects how we operate as a station.”
The person driving the car was a 21 year old who allegedly had ‘huffed’ a few bottles of canned air just prior to the accident.
On Tuesday, Dec. 4, Giving Tuesday, WEAU, Gray’s NBC affiliate in Eau Claire, about 10 miles from the accident scene, held a fundraiser in its front parking lot.
Drivers entering the parking lot would be greeted by a WEAU anchor or employee.
Donors received coupons to area businesses as a thank you for their contributions.
WEAU did news mentions and programming cut-ins, web stories, push notifications and social media posts throughout the day to drive traffic. The WEAU fundraiser raised $83,201.
Terry McHugh, WEAU’s general manager, was the driving force to create this fundraiser.
McHugh worked with Royal Credit Union (RCU) to help with money collection. RCU fully supported this imitative by making a contribution, an employee match and collected donations from customers at their locations.
McHugh also worked directly with the eight new car dealerships in the Chippewa Valley. Each dealership contributed $5,000 towards a $40,000 match. Gray Television also donated $5,000.
The fundraiser was called The Halmstad & Southview Memorial Donation Drive and raised money to create scholarships and memorials in the victims honor.
Halmstad and Southview are elementary schools that are part of the Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District that the girls attended.
The funds will go to the Community Foundation of Chippewa County and the Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District Scholarship Foundation.
Money raised will be earmarked and used for future memorials and scholarships in the girls honor.