Ten people standing, gardening, and painting around a lawn with yellow garden beds in the background.

Creative Fundraising in Norcross, Georgia

As part of Bee City USA’s visit to northern Georgia last month, we had the pleasure of meeting members of the Norcross Bee City Committee and touring some of their amazing pollinator habitat, which we will be featuring in a future blog post. We wanted to share their great fundraising efforts for inspiration.

Jacquelyn Morgan
UGA Master Gardener, Gwinnett County Public School Long-term Substitute, Sustainable Norcross Commission (SNC) Member

Jacqueline Petree
Gwinnett County Public School STEM Teacher

Location: Norcross Elementary School, Norcross, GA

USDA Plant Zone: 7b

Our top 5 Native pollinator plants:
1. Black Eyed Susan
2. Brown Eyed Susan
3. Purple coneflowers (including pink and red varieties)
4. Salvia
5. Coreopsis

What have you learned about fundraising?:
When you ask for donations in person most people will not tell you no and its easier for them to buy in when they see your enthusiasm.


Two people in hats lean over a yellow raised garden bed.
Norcross Mayor Newton helping out.

We have been very creative in fundraising and requesting donations for our school garden in the Norcross cluster. We were raising money and donations to complete an outdoor classroom and vertical gardens using sustainable materials. We researched many items we wanted in the garden to make it a very enjoyable place for the students and teachers to use. We had over 30 volunteers from our church donate their Saturday afternoon to come and work in the Norcross Elementary School (NES) garden.

Ten people standing, gardening, and painting around a lawn with yellow garden beds in the background.
Victory World Church volunteers chipping in around the outdoor classroom.

Once we determined we would like to complete the outdoor classroom project, we made a list of the supplies and materials needed to complete the project through lots of research. My husband normally prices many of the building materials and determines which materials may be best to use. Once we finalize the list the potential vendors or donors must be called.

For the most part the fundraising is completed in October and November before the quarter is over for most businesses. Some businesses will have money toward the end of the year for charity and donations. It is important to get as many of the commitments as possible before December.

Most vendors would like to actually meet in person and allow you to tell them about the project. It is much easier to ask for donations when you can explain in details instead of an email. Most all the vendors we have come in contact with gave us a donation. It normally takes about 60 days to have final approval for donations. Over 95% of the companies we called on gave us the donations they promised. We go to the stores and show them the list of the items we need and ask what they can provide.

Two people in masks stand in front of black and orange signs
Ms. Morgan and the Home Depot manager.
Lowes associates picking out plants.

This year we collected donations from Sherwin Williams, Lowes, Home Depot, University of Georgia Extension office, Ferry Morris Seed Company, Growers Outlet, Amazon Smile (from several people and then money is earmarked for the County foundation), City of Norcross, Victory World Church, church members, and others in the community.

Volunteers garden around blooming raised garden beds.
Ms. Petree (left) supervises Mayor Newton (in green) in the garden.

Project completed at Norcross Elementary:

We completed a community service outreach at NES: Clean-up, Recycle and Re-Use. We partnered with Victory World Church, City of Norcross, Sustainable Norcross Committee, Lowes, Sherwin Williams, Growers Market, and Home Depot. We completed a school cleanup, trimmed bushes and weeded the property and gardens, built benches for our new outdoor classroom from donated wood, painted and repurposed old benches in front and the side of the building by re-staining, painted old pots to reuse, and rain barrels, weeded the raised garden beds, added dirt, more flowers, and mulch. We painted garden beds and used old pallets to make vertical gardens. The Norcross Mayor came out and helped us too.

Wood benches and desks in front of raised garden beds.
Norcross Elementary School’s completed outdoor classroom.
Four people in masks stand next to a newly installed rain barrel.
The rain barrel (pictured before it was painted) was donated by Gwinnett Water Resources. Victory World Church donated a day of service to complete the classroom project. They donated some nails, screws, boards, and gardening tools. They donated fruit, snacks, and drinks.

The vertical gardens were made of old pallets that were donated with discarded or recycled materials. One local business was called to donate some pallets. They were taken apart to reuse the wood in the pallet. We finally got the pallets cut, painted, and put the weed blocking fabric inside them. The flowers and seeds were planted in the pallets by the Norcross School Garden Club. We put pressure-treated wood on the bottom so they do not touch the ground and can be moved anywhere. The students put fall vegetables in them. We had seeds donated by the UGA Extension office and Ferry Morris. We finished four pallets.

Two people stand next to blue upright pallets that are converted into vertical garden beds
Mr. Kendrick and Ms. Olive with two of the vertical gardens.

We added benches that turned into desks. The City of Norcross donated two benches and reimbursed us for some receipts for supplies. We worked very hard by calling local businesses and friends to donate enough money for us to get two additional benches. The donations were made through Amazon Smile. We raised $400+ to buy the benches.

A man sits at a convertible desk in outdoor classroom
Mr. Kendrick sits at one of the benches that convert into desks

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