Helena High School has annual mattress fundraiser

Published 10:23 am Wednesday, October 13, 2021

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By MICHELLE LOVE | Staff Writer

HELENA – Helena High School held one of its most unique annual fundraisers on Sunday, Oct. 3. Members of the Helena community came out in droves to support the infamous mattress fundraising event at the school.

The fundraiser is exactly as it sounds: for one day only, patrons are encouraged to buy mattresses, bed frames, and more at the school, and all proceeds go towards the school’s various programs.

Custom Fundraising Solutions holds the fundraisers for multiple schools in northern Alabama.

Charlie Colwell is the owner of Custom Fundraising Solutions, and he was introduced to the idea of mattress fundraisers 10 years ago when a friend tried to talk him into participating.  Colwell was less than enthused about the idea.

“I thought it was the dumbest idea ever,” he said point blank.

Once he started, Colwell quickly learned he was wrong.  He held his first fundraiser about nine years ago, and now he does about 50 events a year.

“We’ve given $1.75 million to schools that I work with in the past nine years,” Colwell said.

He’s worked with Helena High School’s various sports teams (primarily football, baseball and softball) for the past six years, and in that time, Custom Fundraising Solutions has given back over $20,000 to the school.

The mattress fundraiser stands out just by title alone, and Colwell said that’s what makes the fundraiser special.

“Everybody hates fundraising, nobody wants to do it, but we get to sell a product people happen to need anyway that they’re going to buy regardless,” he said. “We can typically save them money because we don’t have the overhead that typical stores do. We’re setting up at the schools, and we’re able to give back to the schools we work with. It’s different from other fundraisers because you’re not trying to talk somebody into buying overpriced chocolate or something like that. Here, they get to support a school, a band or a football team by buying something they actually need.”

Colwell said each fundraiser provides a wide variety of items for people to buy.

“We put out 26 mattresses, frames, adjustable beds, everything people could want,” said Colwell. “We have a little bit of everything.”

Colwell said he’s been particularly intrigued by how enthusiasm over fundraising events has grown exponentially since the pandemic. He credits the growth to a universal understanding that 2020 hit everyone hard financially.

“What’s been really interesting with COVID is I think a lot of people know certain programs lost some other fundraising opportunities,” he said. “So I think people in general are really wanting to support local programs because they know they need it. Last year was a really tough year for people.”

Colwell got emotional when asked what it meant to him to be able to help schools in this way. “It means a lot, as you can tell…so, I’ve been able to help the baseball team buy some new helmets to protect their kids better, or help a band make a trip. It means everything.”