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College of Media students apply skills to support local nonprofits

Written by Kaitlyn McClung, Advertising and Public Relations student Oppe's Capstone Students

The feelings of gratitude are mutual for WVU Reed College of Media students and leaders of the local nonprofit organizations for which they’re providing advertising and public relations services.

Each semester, students in Teaching Associate Professor Elizabeth Oppe’s Advertising and Public Relations capstone course create an integrated communications campaign for a local nonprofit organization. This semester’s clients include Get Moving! Inc., United Way/Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, All American Grand Bash, Old Hemlock Foundation, Monongalia Parks and Recreation and WVU Campus Food Garden.

In August, each student presented a one-minute elevator pitch to representatives from the nonprofit organizations. The clients then chose the students that best met their needs and assigned each one a role, similar to a real agency structure.

“This invaluable experience allows students to truly understand an agency work environment, where they must form relationships with one another and with a client to get the job done,” Oppe said. “They’re able to feel both the pressure of deadlines and deliverables, but also pride and a sense of accomplishment, which is especially powerful when working with nonprofit organizations that are making a positive difference in our communities.”

Get Moving! Inc. is a nonprofit organization located in Morgantown, West Virginia, that focuses on combating childhood obesity. Each year the nonprofit sponsors a free event called Day of Play, where children from across the state participate in physical activity drills with former and current WVU athletes.

Advertising and Public Relations students Cameron Scott-Vandeusen, Lucas Lopes, Bianca Leonard and Zoe Nonnenburg are working to promote and manage the event, which takes place Saturday, March 18, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the WVU Athletics Caperton Indoor Practice Facility.

“Kids ranging from ages 9 to 12 will participate in activities with former athletes,” said Scott-Vandeusen, account executive for the team. “West Virginia, as of 2022, ranks 4th in the nation for childhood obesity, and one of the best ways to combat this issue is by showing kids how to stay active and how fun it can be.”

United Way/Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) is an international program that delivers one free high-quality, age-appropriate book each month to children from birth to age five. DPIL has mailed more than a million books per month to children across the globe with the help of local organizations like United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties, which delivers books to children in 40 West Virginia counties.

The DPIL student team includes Carson Diehl, Evan Potts and Stephen Santivasci.

“We are focused on creating social media accounts to promote and increase the number of children registered [for the program],” said Santivasci, the team’s creative director. “The ultimate goal for this campaign is to get 1,500 sign-ups by the end of the semester. We will have three events spread throughout the semester to help boost these numbers.”

The All American Grand Bash is a raffle event that supports the Hoss Foundation, Mission for Miracles, Operation Welcome Home and WVU Medicine Children’s Hospital. More than $800,000 in prizes are awarded to attendees during the event, which will be held at Mylan Park in Morgantown on March 17 and 18. Students Chase Robinson, Anthony Cinelli, Kevin Miller and Emma Wood are working on a campaign to increase the number of volunteers for the event.

“We are reaching out to the community and WVU for volunteers for this event,” said Robinson, the team’s account executive. “On Friday, we need 100 volunteers and for Saturday we need 300 volunteers to help manage attendance, sell raffle tickets and set up and tear down the venue. These volunteers are crucial for ensuring the event runs smoothly.”

To donate, purchase tickets or learn more about volunteering, visit

Located in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, the Old Hemlock Foundation works to preserve and promote the legacy of George Bird Evans, a talented author, illustrator, outdoorsman and dog breeder, and his wife, Kay Evans, through charitable, scientific and educational initiatives. Additionally, they offer scholarships to WVU medical students and literary scholarships for Bruceton Mills area students.

The Old Hemlock Foundation student team includes Karsyn Keaton, Matthew Lewis and Britney Saunders.

“We are working to archive some of George’s work, and we’re hosting focus groups of community leaders from the Bruceton Mills area to help us raise awareness about the environmental aspect of the foundation,” said Lewis, team research director, “We will also attend the dog reunion for Old Hemlock Setter owners, who are spread across the nation.”

Students Danielle Beistline, Nicholas Gaglio and Tyler Porter are working for the Monongalia Parks and Recreation Department, which manages Chestnut Ridge Park and Campground, Camp Muffly Park and Mason-Dixon Historical Park. Each property offers different amenities, which include snow tubing, a public pool and a summer concert series. The parks also are available for weddings and camp activities.

“We are working to increase the number of patrons to each of the parks from Monongalia County and surrounding areas,” said Beistline, the team’s account executive. “We’re also managing the social media accounts for each of the properties and have been hosting giveaways to increase engagement across their accounts.”

Visit for a complete list of activities or to reserve space or book an event.

WVU Campus Food Garden works with the local community to educate and advocate for an end to food insecurity in Appalachia. The WVU Campus Food Garden produced more than 2,600 pounds of fruits and vegetables in 2022, and students Angelica Digiovanni, Dominique Devivo, Jillian Peyton and Nicholas Slaven are helping to increase that number this year.

“We are working with the WVU Campus Food Garden to get the community involved in realizing the value of food and that there are different ways to get it,” said Digiovanni, team account executive. “One of our primary goals is to get an official website up and running.”

To get involved with WVU Campus Food Garden, visit their iServe page and look for the weekly workshops that are open to WVU students and community members. To find more information about the workshops and receive the weekly newsletter, become a fan of the WVU Campus Food Garden on iServe.

Students will present a final campaign report and presentation to their clients as their final course deliverables.

"My experiences with Dr. Oppe and her students have been all positive," said LeJay Graffious, a director for the Old Hemlock Foundation. "Our readership is primarily the Baby Boomer generation. Being able to interact with the Capstone students affords me the opportunity to gain insights into Generation Z who were born into the digital age. We gain knowledge on better presenting a message to young folks, while the students gain an authentic learning experience similar to post graduation employment."