It was during a quick study break at Zick’s during finals week when Gregory Drumwright, a third-year Divinity student, came to a harsh realization. While talking with the Zick’s employees, Drumwright learned that they did not share the same excitement students had for the upcoming winter break.
This was because many service employees on Wake Forest’s campus do not receive paid time off during the winter break. Instead, they are left to search for temporary work to gain income.
The same employees explained to Drumwright how being without an income for a month affects their families.
“Some of them told me, ‘My kids won’t be getting a Christmas this year,’” Drumright said. “I encountered a problem that day that would not release me and I left feeling heavy-hearted.”
After discussing this problem among other students at the Divinity school, Drumwright decided to take action. With the help of his classmates, Drumwright created the Angel Fund, which he described as “the inspiration to develop a quick solution for an ugly problem on our campus.”
“When we see needs and encounter burdens, we need to figure out the quickest way to bring a response,” Drumwright said.
For Brenden Kee, a third-year Divinity student, the lack of paid time off for some auxiliary service employees represented an unjust inequality at Wake Forest.
“[Not receiving paid time off] isn’t fair because these workers have kids and lives just like faculty and staff,” Kee said.
Drumwright initially hoped to raise $2,500 to distribute among food service employees who would not receive paid time off during the winter break. This original goal was built on the hope that just 50 people would donate $50 each.
“The Angel Fund was as simple as [asking], ‘Can y’all help me help somebody?’” Drumwright said.
Drumwright began the fundraising efforts by circulating an email within the Divinity school. From there, people shared the email across the Wake Forest campus and the Winston-Salem community.
As a result, over 100 people donated a total of $6,700 to the Angel Fund in just one week. Most of the donations came from Wake Forest students and faculty. The donors also included professionals in the Winston-Salem community and parents of Wake Forest students.
For Drumwright, the eagerness of the Wake Forest community to help address a problem was comforting.
“When people find out that there is a problem, there are people in the Wake Forest family that rise to the occasion,” Drumwright said.
After they collected all of the donations, Drumwright and a few of his divinity school classmates appeared unannounced at dining locations across campus to distribute the financial gifts.
Kee joined Drumwright in handing out the financial gifts.
In addition, Kee recorded a video, which has over 300 views on YouTube, capturing the reactions of workers who received these gifts.
“We were able to impact 25 families whose recipients were Wake Forest employees with an average gift of $300,” Drumwright said. According to the Angel Fund, this amount was designed to ensure employees could pay bills and buy Christmas gifts for their children.