The Plattsburgh State Public Relations Campaign class will host “Honor Flight Presents: A Film For Freedom.” The movie event will show “Casablanca” Sunday, April 17, from 2 to 5 p.m. in the E. Glenn Giltz Auditorium in Hawkins Hall. The event will help support the North Country chapter of Honor Flight, and the goal is to raise $12,000 needed to send 14 veterans to Washington, D.C. on an all-expense-paid trip to visit their war memorials.
For students in Public Relations Campaigns class, this has been a year-long mission starting in August. They have worked with the nonprofit group on a public relations campaign.
PSUC senior magazine, multimedia journalism and public relations major Chris Burek said the process of coming up with events and fundraisers to help North Country Honor Flight began in PRE 314: Campaign Planning and Development.
“We watched a documentary on Honor Flight. After seeing it, I knew this was a cause I could get behind,” Burek said. “Outside of class, this was something I was already passionate about because I have a lot of family members who are involved in the military.”
Burek said the event is about bringing awareness to Honor Flight but also locating remaining World War II veterans in the area.
“There are approximately 300 veterans left in the area,” he said. “We want to find them and give them the chance to go on a Honor Flight.”
The class has outreach initiatives where a group of students go out and give presentations to people about Honor Flight. As a result, they have been able to locate four veterans that will be eligible for an Honor Flight.
Public Relations associate professor Colleen Lemza said working with North Country Honor Flight has given students an opportunity to get hands-on of experience running an actual campaign.
In the Campaign Planning class, students research clients and find out what the client needs help with. They also brainstorm goals, strategies and potential events and fundraisers.
“It’s a way to reinforce what they learned in class and apply it in real life situations,” Lemza said.
Lemza acknowledged some students who were part of the outreach initiatives were a little apprehensive at first about going out and talking to potential clients.
“These veterans are not going to be in the ACC, they are going to be in nursing and assisted living homes,” she said. “It’s a learning process. See how hard it is to get their message across. Real public relations is like that.”
Lemza said the students who came back were so moved by hearing the veteran’s stories and being able to talk to them.
The campaign class has also sent out press releases and put the event on community calendars.
“We came up with the general idea with showing a popular movie from their time period,” Burek said. “Casablanca is considered to be one of the best films of all time.”
The students have been able to bring in nearly $8,000 with a combination of grants, donations and fundraisers since the beginning of the school year.
The class this semester held fundraisers at Sweet Frog and Buffalo Wild Wings, where a portion of the people’s dining purchases went to Honor Flight’s cause.
During the movie showing, there will be a silent auction where gift baskets will be auctioned off as well as gift cards from several local business including Irises Cafe & Wine Bar, Leisure Tan, Dame’s Liquor Store, Del’s Sub, Hobie’s Sports Den and Blue Collar Bistro.
Another event will be held at Chipotle Mexican Grill April 27. Customers who present the cashier with a flier, available on the “New North Country Honor Flight Page” on Facebook, between 4 and 8 p.m. will have 50 percent of their purchase donated to the campaign.
PSUC junior public relations major Marco DiGirolomo said it’s nice to see all these businesses support North Country Honor Flight.
“It has been really gratifying,” DiGirolomo said. “We’re doing something for a better cause. I feel like a lot of us in the class realized this is bigger than us.”
DiGirolomo noted the event will have a good impact on the community and hopes these fundraisers will develop a blueprint for Honor Flight to use in the future and see what worked well for them.
“It’s a been a great learning experience,” junior public relations major Noah Cooperstein said. “I always had a lot of respect for the military veterans.”
Burek said the class has been a journey of sorts for him, and he has enjoyed working with the people in charge.
“They are incredible people, and they put so much into Honor Flight,” he said. “The class has become a family, and I’m going to miss working with Honor Flight. It’s something I’m going to look into volunteering for more in the future.”
Email David Luces at firstname.lastname@example.org