Fundraising for more opportunities

Temperatures were high, but a cool breeze kept the afternoon cool for the Pierce College Welding Club, who hosted their second fundraiser on Saturday, May 18, to help their members and students of the program  raise money to compete in the national welding competition sponsored by SkillsUSA, an organization that forms partnerships of student, teachers and leaders in specific industries that ensure a skilled workforce within the country.

20-year-old Jacqueline Martinez, was one of the many students at the Welding fundraiser.

Martinez sat in a tent  at the entrance where  objects created by the welding class were on display later to be raffled for those people who paid a $5 fee, or bought the welding’s club t-shirts to show their support.

“Right here is where we are raffling of everything so we can try and raise money for the national welding competition,” said Martinez.

Among the items attendees could take home with them if they were lucky enough to win were clocks, mailboxes, and decorations for the home.

The items displayed were all student made according to Gary Wheeler, Industrial Technology Professor at Pierce College for nine years now.

“All the things [in the raffle tent] are all made by my students at their leisure,” said Wheeler. “I show them what to do, and they come up with their own creative ideas.”

No exact amount was given on how much the club wanted to raise that day but all they wanted was something to help them afford going to the Welding National Competition.

Several of the tents during the day were manned  by people in the industry Wheeler invited to come in and help, including Michael Vanvakaris, the District Sales Manager for Hypertherm.

Vanvakaris, who sells plasma-cutting system, was doing demonstrations on how to weld metal with this equipment.

“Earlier today I had an 8-year-old boy come and cut out his name, and we made him a nice cool name plate for his room,” said Vanvakaris.

Trophies, ranging from gold to silver from previous competitions, were  on display in Wheeler’s office which was open for  public viewing to show how well the team has done.

In previous years, all the money for competitions came out of Wheelers pocket, now they are trying to raise money by fundraising to help improve the program and help students go to the competitions.

“[The fundraiser] started for the Pierce Welding Club so we can raise money to go to SkillsUSA cause we don’t have support from our school staff,” said Wheeler. “There is nobody that will step up to help us.”

Craig Weiser, president of the club  for two years since its debut, said they want to expand the program  full-time.

Last year, Weiser states that they were able to raise $1,800 and won a prize from the ASO for best fundraiser.

“[We are] fundraising for our students to go to Skills USA, a welding competition, and to help expand and improve our program,” said Weiser.

 For more information on the Welding Club and Skills USA visit: