Community raises over $7K for Jessica Morgan Memorial Scholarship
March 11, 2015
Sometimes the best way to show the strength of a community is to watch them amidst tragedy. In the case of the Southwest School community, that sense of solidarity raised over $7,700 during a fundraiser held on Saturday to remember Jessica Morgan, a senior who was killed in a car wreck last fall.
Jessica’s death ravaged the Southwest community, impacting not only her family, friends and teachers, but the community as a whole. As an avid Christian and athlete, she was well-loved by her teammates and those who knew her. After her death, her family searched for ways to remember her giving spirit which is what led to Saturday’s event.
Her family decided to create a memorial scholarship to honor Jessica and to help other students in the community. Jessica’s mother, Barbara Morgan, said, “Creating a memorial scholarship was a wonderful way to honor Jessica’s life and who she was. Jessica loved helping others, and she’d be so proud of how the community has come together to help one another.”
While the details of the scholarship are in the initial stages, next year and subsequent years, the family hopes to raise $10,000 each year through annual events and donations to give away to graduating Southwest seniors to help with college expenses.
Jessica’s sister, Amber Paulsen, said, “This year will be different with the scholarship because it is the first time. Part of the money we raised Saturday will go to pay for Jessica’s headstone, but the rest will be used for the scholarship.” At least one senior will be selected this year to the Jessica Morgan Memorial Scholarship with the number of scholarships handed out increasing beginning next year.
Her family worked with Linda Morgan, Southwest High School teacher and Fellowship of Christian Athletes adviser, to develop a scholarship application available for students who are active in FCA. Students are asked to write an essay about their need for the scholarship. Paulsen also said, “We also want the students applying to be aware of the importance of organ donation because that was very important to Jessica.”
In following years, family and friends plan to have at least three annual events to contribute to the scholarship fund, including the Fly High 5K in Jessica’s memory beginning this fall.
Saturday’s fundraiser included a meal, t-shirt sales, an auction and more. Many of the items donated for the sale came from local businesses. Volunteer Dia Dixon said, “I helped collect donations, advertise and work the event. I was so amazed at the generosity of both Arkansas and Missouri businesses. Everyone wanted to help in one way or another. I was even more surprised the day of when the crowds started gathering.”
Jessica’s sister, Ashley Wallace, said, “We had people who would buy $20 worth of stuff and give us a $100 or $50 bill and tell us to keep it. The way the community came together and surrounded us with love and light makes me so grateful to be a part of this small town.”
Each of Jessica’s family member’s echoed the sentiment of how grateful they are for the community around them. Her brother, Bradley Clark, said, “We had a great turnout, and it makes you grateful to live in a small community that gives so much support.”
Paulsen said, “Our family has been through a lot, and it’s hard. It’s not something you can even comprehend unless you’ve gone through it. I know she is truly happy that all of these people have helped us smile. There is not one thing about Jessica that wouldn’t draw you in. She had the kind of soul that you always wanted to be near. Saturday’s event was amazing, and I thank every single one of those that have continued to support our family.”
Wallace said, “She was unapologetically herself. She had such a bright spirit and a laugh that felt like sunshine, and we miss her like crazy. We will forever find ways to keep her memory alive, and we are so unbelievably thankful to everyone who continues to make that possible.”
To donate to the Jessica Morgan Memorial Scholarship Fund, there is an account set up with Freedom Bank.