By Jelani Gibson


For the Prosper Press


Making sure that 2020 donations keep pace with an increase in customers is critical, Prosper Ladies Association Fundraising Chair Lori Puckett said ahead of the organization’s annual Boots & Bling Gala, scheduled Saturday at Rock Creek Ranch in McKinney.


While the organization’s primary attention is put on the overall community, it is also focused on assisting students, Puckett said.


Between scholarships, summer lunch programs, holiday fundraisers and other philanthropic work, Puckett said helping students within Prosper ISD expands the organization’s mission outside the town of Prosper to neighboring cities.


“That’s what Boots & Bling does: It raises that money so we can function another year and we can support all of those programs,” she said.


Providing college scholarships can alleviate hardships and stresses for students, such as needing additional income from second jobs and lacking furniture.


When Puckett receives letters from students who have gone off to college, she views it as a reminder of why the need for fundraising continues to be pivotal.


“They loved the fact that they didn’t have to work at the same time while they were trying to transition from home to a college setting,” she said.


Students can often be overwhelmed by the amount of scholarships they have to apply for, so the organization has to make sure it advertises its work on a local level, Puckett said.


“The students are so inundated with the opportunity to do scholarships, so I think they forget to look locally,” she said.


Amy Jukes, Prosper Ladies Association president, said the organization is about instilling a sense of local collaboration.


“Our main focus is to help the community as a whole and to come together as a community and to take care of our community and those that need different things,” she said.


Serving an increase in customers requires the organization to approach fundraising in new ways, Jukes said.


“We are very creative. We’re big on social media,” she said. “This year, we had an influx of kids on the Christmas Angel program, so we needed to quickly get out there and we did things like virtually adopt an Angel where people can donate the money instead of going shopping themselves. They could just donate the money and we sent out people from our organization to shop.”


Prosper Ladies Association member Sheila McKee said her participation in the organization is about an obligation to give children opportunities that she didn’t have access to in her own childhood.


“Growing up in a free-and-reduced lunch program and not having, to be able to help kids at Christmas have presents to open, have the same things that all the other kids have, is huge,” she said.


Opportunity should be cyclical, McKee said.


“Somebody paid for me to go to school. I can pay for someone else’s child to go to school. You should continue to help people,” she said.


For additional information about the Prosper Ladies Association or Boots & Bling Gala, visit prosperladies.com.