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story.lead_photo.caption Jim and Cathy Crouch (from left), Linda and Gordon Salmonson and Jody and Mark Dilday visit at Jingle Mingle in 2019. (File photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)

Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Northwest Arkansas supporters gathered virtually for the annual Jingle Mingle on Dec. 10. The event is traditionally a chance for scholarship recipients and supporters to ring in the holidays and serves as a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization. More than 250 backers joined the group for the online event, helping them exceed this year's fundraising goal.

The fund helps single parents in Carroll, Madison and Washington counties. Along with money for school, the group helps recipients with living expenses and provides a mentoring program and other supports for recipients and their families through graduation.

Christy Darby, scholarship recipient, shared her experiences with SPSF NWA. "The encouragement has been invaluable." She said she turned to the group in 2019 for herself and for her son. "We weren't hungry; we had a home; but what we didn't have was a future ... My son witnesses how much effort and hard work I put into my schoolwork, and he's right there with me making the grade. He sees firsthand the importance of education and how it will ensure a future for both of us, and even though he's only 13, his wheels are already turning thinking about what he wants to do when he goes to college."

LaDeana Duncan, SPSF NWA board chairwoman and scholarship alumna, said this year, as recipients have navigated additional challenges, "we have served 140 recipients, awarding $414,500 in scholarships and other cash bonuses to assist during the global pandemic. We've seen how resilient our single parent recipients are."

The nonprofit organization has helped scholarship families with rental and mortgage payments and provided technology such as laptops, printers and internet access as academic institutions switched to alternative learning methods.

Tyler B. Clark, executive director, said: "With all the changes that have come this year, we've seen a substantial increase of qualified single parents choosing to further their education." For the upcoming 2020-21 spring semester, 101 potential recipients have applied and completed the interview process.

Applications for summer 2021 scholarships will be available in January. The group awards traditional scholarships, "for students seeking an associate, bachelor's, Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.), and licensure in cosmetology or massage therapy at approved institutions" along with healthcare career and vocational education scholarships "for students pursuing healthcare or professional certifications at approved institutions (NWTI, UAMS/Schmieding Center, Petra Allied Health, PRN, North Arkansas College or NWACC) and various courses at the University of Arkansas Global Campus."

For more event photos -- nwadg.com/photos/society.

Columnist Carin Schoppmeyer can be reached by email at [email protected]

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NWA Democrat-Gazette/CARIN SCHOPPMEYER Helene Furst (left) and Carleen Ringgenburg help support Single Parent Scholarship Fund of NWA at Jingle Mingle.
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NWA Democrat-Gazette/CARIN SCHOPPMEYER Dale Ford (from left), Darren Clark, Greg Cable, Natalie Bartholomew and Emily Bogner help support the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Northwest Arkansas at Jingle Mingle on Dec. 5 at the Stone Chapel at Matt Lane Farm in Fayetteville.
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NWA Democrat-Gazette/CARIN SCHOPPMEYER Randy and Melissa Werner (from left) and Leslie and Ted Belden attend Jingle Mingle.
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NWA Democrat-Gazette/CARIN SCHOPPMEYER Lindsay Watt (from left) and Bernadette Holt and Roy Frazier attend Jingle Mingle. Holt was the evening's featured student speaker.
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NWA Democrat-Gazette/CARIN SCHOPPMEYER Patricia Rodriguez, Single Parent Scholarship Fund of NWA scholar, is joined by her father Manuel Rodriguez at Jingle Mingle on Dec. 1.
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NWA Democrat-Gazette/CARIN SCHOPPMEYER Colt and Natalie Bartholomew (from left) and Tyler Clark, SPSF NWA executive director visit at Jingle Mingle on Dec. 9 at the Barn at the Springs in Springdale.
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NWA Democrat-Gazette/CARIN SCHOPPMEYER Jennifer Hackler (left) and Mallory Mounce help welcome guests to Jingle Mingle.
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NWA Democrat-Gazette/CARIN SCHOPPMEYER Levon and Courtney Ogden enjoy Jingle Mingle.
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At a Glance

Jingle Mingle

Who: Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Northwest Arkansas

What: The online event helped the group exceed its fundraising goal

When: Dec. 10

Information: (479) 935-4888 or spsfnwa.org

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