On Wednesday, Oct. 29, representatives from Hope College and leaders from local businesses will engage in a long-standing tradition of visiting more than 150 area businesses in Holland and Zeeland, seeking contributions to the Hope Fund for the 2008-09 Community Campaign.

The Hope Fund has been in existence for almost as long as HopeCollege itself.  The Community Campaign, on behalf of the Hope Fund, began more than 30 years ago as a way to engage community leaders with Hope faculty and staff in building and maintaining relationships between the community and the college.

In addition to those receiving personal visits on campaign day, hundreds more businesses and friends of HopeCollege will receive letters encouraging a contribution.

"The Community Campaign encourages area businesses to invest in Hope College with tangible benefits," explained Mark DeWitt, Hope's director of corporate and foundation relations.  "Since our founding, Hope College and the communities of Holland and Zeeland have always enjoyed an almost unrivaled town-gown relationship and this campaign acknowledges our relationship.  Hope is grateful for business and industry participation in this effort through financial partnerships and volunteer support."

Doug Ruch, who is a 1981 Hope graduate and president and chief executive officer of the Fleetwood Group, is the chairperson of the 2008-09 Community Campaign.  The Fleetwood Group designs and manufactures furniture and electronic systems for global learning.

Doug carries on the tradition that started with his father, Richard Ruch, as the first Community Campaign chairperson in 1978.  He noted that he is pleased to be heading this year's fundraising effort based not only on his own student experience or more recently the experience of his two sons as Hope students themselves, but because of what he sees Hope adding to the area.

"Leaders of distinction within the college community, nationally recognized programs, facilities that help students achieve at the highest levels, good employment for over 800 faculty and staff, and over 3,200 student-citizens are just a sampling of the benefits Hope provides to our community," he said.

Revenue from the Hope Fund provides discounted tuition for every student.  It also underwrites health, counseling and career services, assists in bringing world-renowned artists, authors, musicians and lecturers to campus and generates service opportunities for its students.  Financial support of the Community Campaign and the Hope Fund makes available unrestricted resources that enhance the academic mission of Hope College.