News from the MBU Empowers Campaign
MBU students returned from winter break to an uplifting surprise: hundreds of custom signs with greetings from alumni and supporters along campus sidewalks.
The warm messages marked the arrival of Deck the Hills, the university’s third annual winter fundraising initiative that empowers students through encouraging words from generous donors. In early January, a total of 273 lawn signs were displayed at the Staunton and Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences campuses, providing an affirmative kickoff to the spring semester.
“It’s a fun campaign,” said Megan McAllister MEd ’18, MBU’s director of annual philanthropy and lead organizer of Deck the Hills. “It’s a feel-good way of welcoming our students back, and it’s a way our alumni can connect to our current students.”
Each gift from Deck the Hills counts toward the MBU Empowers Fund, the top giving priority in the university’s comprehensive campaign that supports launching student potential.
McAllister emphasized how Deck the Hills fosters solidarity at MBU, especially as the nation continues to navigate a global health crisis.
“It is an opportunity for the Mary Baldwin family — our alumni, faculty, and staff — to really come together and encourage our students and show that we are supporting them as we welcome them back for a new semester,” she said. “I think last year and this year, being in the pandemic, in a time where individuals can feel very isolated, it’s nice to see that reminder that there are people cheering you on.”
The inspiring signs on the hills include expressions of campus pride; dedications to loved ones and classmates; and well wishes for the new year. Caryn Gove Long ’72 writes, “Sí, se puedes – MBU empowering women since 1842.” Several alums, like Candice Blazejak ’12, contributed “welcome home” messages to current students, and a note from Susan Campbell ’69 reads: “Hope ‘22 is great for you!”
The 2021 Deck the Hills campaign ran from mid-November through the end of December and offered several options for giving. In addition to the “squirrels in the snow” signs, donors had the option to contribute a smaller gift and add a custom message to an MBU-branded coffee sleeve. Reading their words of support, current students get a welcome boost as they grab a coffee on their way to class.
Through its creative strategy and multi-channel outreach, Deck the Hills exceeded its goal and raised over $130,000 to empower students. With one look at MBU’s decorated snowy hills, it’s clear that the annual fundraiser has continued a successful tradition: celebrating student changemakers and timeless community bonds.