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Students give thanks to donors

Steve Kerins | Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Students are giving thanks today for the nearly $68 million received by the University for scholarships this year by partaking in “Thanksgiving in February,” an event organized by the Development Office allowing students to personally thank individual donors.

“‘Thanksgiving in February’ is basically an event to educate the students to the importance of donors to Notre Dame and to give the students the opportunity to say thank you,” said Aly Baumgartner, a member of the Senior Class Gift Committee helping to organize today’s campaign.

From noon to 7 p.m. today, students can stop by the Sorin Room in LaFortune to compose a note thanking Notre Dame’s donors for their contributions. The Development Office will post some of the responses on its Web site and make others available in print.

Throughout the day, seniors on the Gift Committee and Development Office staff members will be on hand explaining the purpose of “Thanksgiving in February” and situating students at computer stations.

Baumgartner said that the event’s timing is not accidental.

The end of February “is roughly the time when, if Notre Dame relied solely on tuition money, [funds] would run out,” she said. “March, April and May run primarily on donor money … It’s also around the date when student financial aid forms are due.”

This year’s “Thanksgiving in February” event will be very informal, relying heavily on the interest of passersby, Baumgartner said.

“It’s just going to be kind of foot traffic. I’m hoping we can just draw people’s interest and their curiosity and have them come in,” she said.

The purpose of “Thanksgiving in February” is to allow students an opportunity to share their gratitude with University donors, who they may not otherwise be in contact with, Notre Dame’s scholarship coordinator and Assistant Director of Financial Aid Jeff Pethick said.

“We hope that, by sharing appreciation, benefactors will understand the positive impact of their generosity,” Pethick said.

Despite the potential for an increase in donations that “Thanksgiving in February” may provide, Pethick said that the University’s facilitation of this event is not done with an eye toward securing funds for the future.

“Although sharing appreciation with donors may increase scholarship giving over the long term, our efforts are focused on cultivating opportunities for students to share appreciation with donors,” Pethick said.

Still, Baumgartner stressed that contributions from individual donors – which made up nearly two-thirds of the $68 million – are a vital component in students’ ability to finance a Notre Dame education.

“Tuition can’t run the University,” Baumgartner said. “So even if a student doesn’t receive financial aid, which so many students do, that’s why it’s so important [to say thank you].”