Aerial view of the Dowagiac campus

McLoughlin Family Foundation funds $50,000 nursing classroom

10/11/2017 - 1pm

McLoughlin Family Foundation of Cassopolis is funding a $50,000 classroom in Southwestern Michigan College’s new Nursing and Health Education Building.

The foundation’s signature event is the annual Great Start Shopping Spree.

The private charity sends busloads of Dowagiac and Cassopolis elementary school students to Benton Harbor to spend $200 each on back-to-school clothes, shoes, backpacks and books during a private Target shopping spree.

Students are chosen by their principals and teachers based on academic performance, strong work habits, attendance, good attitude and financial need.

The Great Start Shopping Spree spun off professional golfer Phil Mickelson’s Smart Start program in San Diego and inspired a similar event for Marcellus students.

In August, for the 11th annual Great Start, six Royal Excursion buses, escorted by the Cass County Sheriff’s Office and Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, transported 179 students in grades 1-4 plus parents.

The first Great Start Shopping Spree in 2007 invited 100 children.

The foundation’s main goal is bolstering local charities which fall outside the reach of larger national organizations.

The foundation was founded almost 20 years ago by Michael and Susie McLoughlin.

Earl Marhanka founded the family’s business, K&M Machine-Fabricating Inc., in 1951.

Southwestern Gate, the Jon Rush sculpture welcoming visitors to the Dowagiac campus on Cherry Grove Road, was a gift from Earl and Helen Marhankag.

Earl Marhanka was one of SMC Foundation’s first board members appointed Jan. 14, 1971, and served as its second president.

The McLoughlin Family Foundation’s philanthropy has also benefited Lory’s Place in St. Joseph, the COA’s Meals on Wheels program, Cass County Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County’s Bonine House restoration.

To learn more about the SMC Foundation's major gift initiative and to support changing lives, visit

Or, contact Eileen Toney at: SMC Foundation, 58900 Cherry Grove Road, Dowagiac, MI 49047; (269) 782-1301; or