Published on February 26, 2021 by Sarah Waller  

In March 2020, as the world faced an extraordinary health and economic crisis, the Samford University community, rooted in the love of Christ, asked what they could do to support students facing difficult physical, emotional or financial circumstances. In answer to this question, the university launched the Meeting Students Needs campaign, raising close to $300,000 from over 400 donors. 

Then, in August 2020, the Samford community came together again to do something big. More than 1,000 donors raised $234,821 during the summer’s rescheduled Big Give, a 36-hour fundraising campaign, to "Bring Back the Bulldogs.” Although the look and feel of last year’s event was different from previous years, the 2020 Big Give proved to be an integral way for Samford supporters to empathize with the ongoing needs of Samford students and ensure the success of their education.

The funds raised in these two campaigns not only provided immediate assistance to students in need, but it also helped Samford faculty, staff and students as they moved forward with an academic year like no other.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 135 Samford students requested support through the emergency assistance fund. Donor contributions sustain this fund and made it possible to fulfill requests for rent, utilities, food, medication, gas, health care, and textbooks.

Edwards, a graduate student, requested support after his wife lost her job, making it hard for the couple to make ends meet and provide for their young family. Edward reached out to the university’s emergency fund for help, and because of donors, Samford was able to offer his family some much-needed assistance. “In times of need, your school usually is not the first place you look to for support, but Samford was exactly that for me,” he said.

Supporting International Students

When Samford made the decision to move all instruction online in March 2020, it was nearly impossible for international students to return home safely. Some could not return to their home country at all because of travel restrictions. Christa was one of these students. “I was worried that having to travel and be quarantined for 14 days could affect my health and my ability to finish the spring semester. Thankfully, Samford arranged for me to remain on campus. While the new system of remote teaching was unusual for everyone, staying on campus with a limited amount of distractions and a good internet connection allowed me to remain safe, focused, and finish the semester strong," she said.

Meeting Practical Needs

The emergency assistance fund was also able to support students’ practical needs—like the ability to supply a laptop when the student no longer had access to the computer labs on campus. When this request was made, Samford employees quickly worked together to find and prepare a computer that would be sufficient for the student’s need. Then, the computer was personally delivered to the student’s doorstep.

Wade Walker, Samford’s director of business services, delivered the computer. “I was honored to be able to deliver this computer. In speaking with both the student and his mother they were very appreciative. To be able to see the expression of joy on their face was priceless,” he said.

Keep Making Big Things Happen

Save the date and join the Samford community on April 13-14 for the 2021 Big Give. This year's campaign honors Andrew and Jeanna Westmoreland as they prepare for retirement after 15 years of leadership to Samford students, employees, alumni, parents and friends.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.