WENATCHEE — In years past, the Washington Apple Education Foundation would be gathering together scholarship recipients, their parents and donors for annual scholarship celebration luncheon events held in late July in Yakima and Wenatchee.

With the restrictions on group gatherings, this year the foundation gathered videos from students instead. These videos were pulled together in a six-minute celebration film honoring the recipients. The film released last week on social media.

The Scholarship Celebration Film titled “Celebrating Our Future” is on the foundation’s website, waef.org, on its Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn pages and can also be accessed by texting the word “Apple” to 56512.

Students share what obtaining a college degree means to them and express appreciation for the support they receive. The direct link to the YouTube video is wwrld.us/3eY2Yzr.

“A couple of months ago it became clear that we would not be gathering 1,000-plus students, parents, donors and volunteers together for our annual celebration luncheons,” shared WAEF chairman Chris Willett. He adds, “At that time, this idea was launched as a way an even larger group of people could enjoy the happiness we each feel when attending the luncheon. I suppose it’s a bit of silver lining though we do plan to return to the in-person celebration next year.”

The traditional annual events are important fundraisers for WAEF, in addition to recognizing students and scholarship donors. This year, the foundation has provided a Text to Give option for those who want to support student success. By texting the word “Apple” to the number 56512, those interested in donating to WAEF are taken to a website where contributions can be made and/or the film can be viewed.

Funds raised through these annual events support student success at college. It is the goal of the foundation that its scholarship recipients not just enroll in college but that they graduate on time and prepared to launch their careers. To that end, throughout the year WAEF hosts career development workshops, provides care packages, organizes campus and regional networking events, and cultivates a supportive student community. These activities happen with the assistance of about 200 volunteers from the tree fruit industry and fruit-growing communities.

The Scholarship Celebration Luncheons are presented by Northwest Farm Credit Services. Additionally, sponsorship support this year came from AgroFresh, Alegria & Co., Allan Brothers, Chelan Fresh, CliftonLarsonAllen, CMI Orchards, Columbia Valley Fruit, Conover Insurance, Cowiche Growers, CPC International Apple Co., Crunch Pak, Gilbert Orchards, Good Fruit Grower, GS Long, Heritage University, Homchick Smith & Associates, HR Spinner Corp., Kershaw Companies, Key Bank, Legacy Fruit, Matson Fruit, McDougall & Sons, Moss Adams LLP, North Cascades Bank, Northwest Farm Credit Services, Orchard-Rite, PayneWest Insurance, Sage Fruit, T&G Global, Tree Top, USI, Valley Tractor & Equipment, Washington Fruit & Produce, Wells Fargo Commercial Banking, Yakima Pomological Club and Yakima Valley Community Foundation.

The Washington Apple Education Foundation supports more than 300 students annually with scholarship support in excess of $1 million. Funds for the scholarships are raised through annual donations from fruit growers, packers, suppliers and interested community members. For information, visit waef.org or call 663-7713.

Jennifer Witherbee is executive director of the Washington Apple Education Foundation, the state tree fruit industry’s charity organization. She can be reached at 663-7713.