Texas Tech Rawls Marketing Students Plan High Cotton Event to Benefit Tent City

A person with great success or wealth is said to be “walking in high cotton.” But for the homeless people living in Lubbock’s Tent City who have little or nothing, “high cotton” is about to take on an entirely different meaning.

Texas Tech University students from the Rawls College of Business have teamed up for a service learning project, The High Cotton Affair, benefiting Link Ministries’ Tent City. The fundraiser takes place at 7 p.m. April 20 at the Valley of Lubbock Scottish Rite, 1101 70th St.

“The project is being put on by a special class in event planning and supported by my personal selling class,” said Robert McDonald, associate professor and area coordinator for the Rawls Area of Marketing. “Our goal is to raise money for operating the facility and helping to develop a more comprehensive program to help people who are homeless.”

Link Ministries strives to help those who have fallen hard on times get back on their feet. Tent City, located at 13th Street and Avenue A, houses 25-50 people at a time, and is actively seeking to expand to help many more.

According to McDonald, the idea for the project came from the Light Up Tent City event that Terry McInturff, coordinator of the Area of Energy Commerce, organized last semester.

“I was moved by the problem of homelessness in Lubbock and decided that I had to do something,” McDonald said. “Les Burrus, the head of Link Ministries, said they needed operating capital, so a fundraising event was the perfect service project for my classes.

“Service learning is a movement at Texas Tech. I have used service learning as pedagogy since 2004 in several different courses, both at the undergraduate and the MBA levels. Service learning gives students a chance to learn the course material by applying it in service to their community.”

The theme for the evening is Western Elegance, and the menu is planned accordingly, said Alix MacEwan, the senior marketing and management major from Austin who is in charge of ticket sales.

The night will begin with a cocktail reception, followed with two options for dinner, including prime rib and pork loin, along with a macaroni and cheese and potato bar to top it off, MacEwan said.

Other activities include live music with the Benton Leachman Band performing country music and a silent auction.

“We also are going to have a standard living set on display,” MacEwan said, “that includes a tent, cot, sleeping bag, blanket and toiletries that Tent City normally provides to each of the people staying there. Each item will be labeled with a price tag on it so that guests can visualize exactly what their donation could provide. We hope that this will help the guest understand how their contribution can really change a life.

“The homeless population in Lubbock is something I feel that many people are not aware of, especially students who are not from the area,” MacEwan said. “With more than 350 people classified as homeless, it is so important to acknowledge and address this issue and get students and others involved in bettering our community.”

MacEwan and eight others are in McDonald’s independent study event planning course, while 25 others in his personal selling class also are selling tickets for the event.

McDonald said each student has a quota to sell half a table at the dinner. They can earn extra credit by exceeding their quota. The assignment also has a reflective component that drives home the learning as students reflect on and write about their selling experience.

The event planning class is responsible for everything from booking the hall to choosing the date, booking the music, choosing the menu, decorations, silent auction donations and table sales.

The money collected from the event will go to Tent City’s operating fund, which can assist with the purchase of anything from additional tents, cots, blankets, toiletries to other operational costs.

“I know that all my team members and I have found this project to be so rewarding in many different ways,” MacEwan said. “It is wonderful that Texas Tech and the Rawls College of Business have created a class that not only teaches us extensive knowledge and practical application but allows us to give back and better the Lubbock community.”

For table or ticket information, contact MacEwan at (512) 507-2343 or alix.macewan@ttu.edu.

CONTACT: Bob McDonald, area coordinator and associate professor, Area of Marketing, Rawls College of Business, (806) 834-1175 or bob.mcdonald@ttu.edu.