JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A local historical church in Jacksonville is paying it forward to college students by giving away over 100,000 dollars in scholarships.
The Bethel Church has been a part of the Jacksonville community since 1838 and has helped more than 10,000 people over the years. The church gave out checks to more than 100 students on Sunday after the Dollars For Scholars Education 2022 Scholarthon.
The scholarthon took place virtually on July 31, where more than $100,000 was raised in six hours.
The church couldn’t do its traditional walk-a-thon to raise money for scholarships due to the pandemic, but Bishop Rudolph McKissick, Jr. figured out a way to continue to change lives for the better with a virtual scholarthon.
“I came up with this creative idea to do a six-hour telethon for scholarships. This is our third year — every year it’s grown — this year we raised over $115,000 and gave away 110 scholarships. The donors were local, some were from throughout the country, including the Divine Nine and many well-known names,” McKissick, Jr. said.
The event had big names of participants donate to the cause as well.
“We had three HBCU presidents, Ben Crump, Tamika Mallory, and Reverend Al Sharpton — so we have a variety of national people who are friends that unexpectedly donated as well. That made it very different and unique, and next year we’re going even higher,” McKissick, Jr. said.
Robert Williams was a scholarship recipient from Jean Ribault High School. He won a $1,000 scholarship.
“For the church to be able to provide so many people with $1,000 scholarships, it helps so much with tuition and book and everything. Even though we are still at a distance, we still need resources and things like that for the church to be able to provide it for all the members, it’s just great. We really appreciate it,” Williams said.
Trinity Webster-Bass is a sophomore studying broadcast journalism at Howard University. She called the scholarship “very helpful.”
“It really alleviates the financial burden. I’m on scholarship already, but any additional money always counts because books are expensive, things for additional programs, those have additional funds too, so getting any extra money really helps,” Webster-Bass said.
Seqoya Williams is currently a student at Florida State College at Jacksonville and also received a scholarship.
“This check helps me. I have a daughter, so it helps me. I am able to pay for classes as well as attend school without worrying. I am grateful for the scholarthon. I’m so thankful that this church allows us to do things like this,” Williams said.
The Bethel Chuch will also be giving away backpacks at Andrew Robinson Elementary on August 13. Aetna will be purchasing 500 backpacks to help and church members will buy and donate the supplies to fill the backpacks for the event.