By Amelia Kibbe, ’17
Inside the freshman welcome folders, almost hidden among the many information packets, was a plain, white envelope. Inside the envelope was a crisp $1 bill, something that’s become a tradition at St. Bonaventure.
St. Bonaventure’s newest students soon learned the purpose of the single bill — they could keep it or donate it back to the university.
The money raised from the bills donated became part of two $250 Welcome Days scholarships, awarded to members of the class of 2020, said Rachel Elser, Bonathon manager.
“[The point of] returning the dollar teaches students that giving back a small amount can make a big difference,” Elser said.
More than 95 percent of St. Bonaventure students receive some type of financial assistance from the school, much of it donated by alumni.
The Welcome Days scholarship event is the first step new students are taught in developing a culture of philanthropy. Bonaventure alumni are leaders in donations, with 21 percent donating yearly to the university compared to a 13 percent average at St. Bonaventure’s peer institutions.
After school officials had collected the dollar bills, they drew students’ names to determine the scholarship recipients. Margaret Lukas of Victor, N.Y., and Tyler Thurston of Rochester, N.Y., received the money this year.
Lukas, a visual arts major, said giving her dollar back made her feel like she already had the chance to contribute to Bonaventure.
“[Receiving] the additional money says that Bonaventure is always giving to others and is very generous,” she said. “The money will help me by furthering my education here at St. Bonaventure.”
Thurston, an undecided business major, agreed with Lukas, saying he was happy to give back to the school he will attend for the next four years.
“I think what Bonaventure did was very generous,” Thurston said. “They didn’t have to, but they did. … I was excited when they called my name.”
Many St. Bonaventure graduates give donations they think are small, but activities such as this prove that every dollar counts, Elser said. Seventy-three percent of donors to The Bonaventure Fund give $250 or less by contributing a small amount each month through a recurring gift.
“People think, ‘My $20 isn’t going to make a difference,’ but it really does,” she said.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things. St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #5 best college value in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
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