The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Thanksgiving in February celebrates donors

Nicole McAlee | Wednesday, February 27, 2013

In the month of February, the funds from student tuition fees stop covering the costs of educating the Notre Dame student body for the academic year.

It is that point when the effect of alumni donations are truly felt because those financial gifts cover the gap between the collected tuition fees and the school’s bills, Aaron Wall, associate director of student philanthrophy and annual giving programs, said.

The Thanksgiving in February event yesterday and today gives Notre Dame students the opportunity to share their gratitude with these alumni for their gifts, Wall said. The event began yesterday and will continue today in the Sorin Room in LaFortune Student Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Thanksgiving in February is an opportunity for Notre Dame students to write thank-you notes to a group of alumni who have donated to the University in the past year,” Wall said.

Last year’s event produced over 3,000 thank-you notes. Wall said he hopes this year’s event will match that number.

“If it wasn’t for our generous alumni, tuition would stop covering the cost of education at some point during the month of February,” Wall said. “So it was a natural time to do this event.”

Senior Mia Genereux, co-chair of Senior Legacy, said students at the event will receive the name of a donor, an envelope and stationary, as well as suggestions on how to thank donors. Genereux and her senior co-chair Danny Leicht will direct the event, which is open to all alumni, staff and students.

Wall said students are encouraged to share personal stories about life at Notre Dame.

“We encourage all of our students to say thank you for specific things,” Wall said. “[We want to] give our donors a piece of what student life continues to be at Notre Dame.”

Genereux also noted that the personal nature of the notes is especially meaningful to alumni.

“The Development Office here gets a lot of really positive feedback from donors after this event, because opening a handwritten note, I think, means so much more than receiving an automated email, especially when that note contains an anecdotal student story,” Genereux said.

Participating in Thanksgiving in February is a simple way for students to show gratitude for the generosity of alumni, Genereaux said.

“I think the sense of duty at Notre Dame rings true in everything we do, and so in enjoying the opportunities we have here, students do feel compelled to show that gratitude however they can, and this is an easy way to do it,” Genereux said.

2011 graduate Pablo Martinez, program manager of student programs within annual giving, said alumni contributions to a Notre Dame education have a unique ripple effect.

“[Thanksgiving in February is] a great opportunity for students to give back, and I think more than anything, our alumni realize that giving to Notre Dame is one of the best charities you can give to, just by the simple fact that students take part in so many types of charitable organizations and service work,” Martinez said. “It’s like donating one gift to 10 different institutions all at once when you donate to Notre Dame because of the work the students do here.”

Wall, who earned his undergraduate degree in 2004 and a graduate degree in 2006 from Notre Dame, said alumni enjoy receiving thank-you notes as much as students enjoy writing them.

“Students, in my opinion, have just an awesome opportunity to say thanks because so much of what they’ve received is a gift by alumni,” Wall said. “It’s great speaking as an alumni. I love getting that letter from a student.”

Wall noted alumni give of what they can and he urged students to do the same.

“Everyone gives according to what they have,” Wall said. “As students, the thing you have to give is your thanks.”