By Reuben Jones, Staff Writer

Buying textbooks, purchasing school supplies and decorating a school dorm room can all be expensive challenges for cash-strapped college students.

But for students without parents, and those who do not have family resources to count on, the challenge can be even harder.

This is a problem one class at George Mason University hopes to put a dent in.

COMM 389: Public Relations for Associations and Nonprofits has 26 students dedicated to the assignment of raising money and supporting the Orphan Foundation of America (OFA).

LaKesha Anderson has taught the class for the past four semesters. She explains that, in the class, students learn to “write persuasively for nonprofits and develop a grant proposal.”

Every semester she has split the class into groups to focus their efforts on different nonprofit organizations. This year, however, she decided to have the entire class focus on one organization.

This has been a welcomed change.

“Everyone is really into it, and the class is very involved,” said Anderson.

The Orphan Foundation of America began in 1986 and, since then, has awarded millions of dollars in scholarships and grants to more than 3,500 students.

The communication class is organized into four groups to help target their efforts. The students are either part of the fundraising, donations, event or media groups.

Junior Nikki Frias is a communication major and a member of the donations group. Frias explains that they have received donations from Office Depot and Red Bull and are still planning on making care packages.

The class’ efforts are centered around their major fundraising event on April 29. The event, from 3 – 5 p.m., will be a chance for anyone to come and get free food, enter for raffle tickets and donate as many items as possible.

Donations may include toothbrushes, notebooks and anything a student might use in college.

The event will be held in SUB II and Frias says, “The more you bring, the better [chance] you have of winning prizes from the raffle.”

The class is also holding an event at Chili’s in Fairfax on April 21 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Anyone who goes there to eat must tell the waiter they are supporting the OFA and then 20 percent of the bill will go to the organization.

Anderson says the class decided to think small-scale instead of large-scale because they realized they could make the most impact on a smaller level.

“[They are] taking what they’re learning in class and applying it,” said Anderson.

Anderson has been pleased with the students’ efforts and the students have also enjoyed the experience.

“I really like the class — it’s hands on and [we] all have worked together for the greater good,” said Frias.