Students in Marian Central Catholic High School’s business club got a taste of the entrepreneurial world and helped a good cause when they used proceeds from their keychain sales to purchase chargers and other technology for the McHenry PADS shelter.
When Matthew Cotting, a senior at Marian Central, became president of the business club, he said he wanted to do something different that year. Usually, they talk about stocks, and business and economic news.
“I just thought we could change it up and try and sell something,” Cotting said.
So, they started selling keychains made with the school’s 3D printer this year.
Cotting created an online order form where people could order up to 20 keychains, which they then packaged up in manila envelopes and sent to people with the help of school staff.
For their first business venture, business club members set up a little table in front of Marian Central’s senior night volleyball game. The business club sold out of the 45 to 50 key chains it had that night, Cotting said. In total, the club sold 200 with the online ordering system.
Cotting said the club wanted to use the funds left over from keychain sales to better the community.
He started brainstorming with Marian Central teacher Joe White on what to do, when White mentioned it might be a good idea to help PADS, a place the teacher drove by often.
When the business club contacted PADS, which operates an emergency homeless shelter through the Pioneer Center, they were told that a way to help them this holiday season would be to give them chargers.
“They brought up that there was a mass shortage of these telephone chargers,” he said. “That really surprised me. I thought they were going to ask us for spare clothing, blankets or other necessities of that sort.”
To start off, the business club used leftover money from the keychain sales to buy a few big pieces and charging boxes, with a few ports. The rest of the items were collected from other people at Marian Central in White’s classroom.
People ended up donating them about 30 items in all, Cotting said, which was more than he expected.
The business club ended up getting so many donations, they could give the chargers to people staying at the shelter to keep, Cotting said.
When talking to PADS facility employees, Cotting said, they told him that sometimes, homeless people end up in an unfortunate situation where they can’t charge their phone.
This becomes an issue because “nowadays, phones are pretty much like our gateway into jobs, friendships,” Cotting said. “And they were saying [the chargers were] going to make a really big impact and help a lot of people in the McHenry County area.”
Cotting said the biggest thing he learned from this experience is how even a little bit of help from others can help people get back on their feet.
White said he could see that Cotting was “transformed” by this experience.
“His mind is always moving,” White said, adding that Cotting’s tinkered around with the 3D printing machine for a while. “He’s just this really talented kid.”
Like Cotting, other members of the business club were surprised that chargers were so in need.
“His fellow students felt so strongly about it and bought this stuff,” Cotting said. “I think that’s cool.”
With this new experience, Cotting said, going into business is definitely up there for his potential career choices. Fascinated by planes, Cotting is also heavily considering aerospace engineering as well.