ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y., Oct. 12, 2011 — It might be the shortest, yet most convincing lesson in the power of giving that two St. Bonaventure University freshmen and their classmates will ever learn.
First-year students Jenna Smith of East Aurora and Lucia Searles of Vestal, N.Y., turned $1 donations into $250 scholarships, and in the process discovered that even very small donations can add up to make a real difference.
This is the second year that incoming SBU freshmen arrived for Welcome Days activities at the start of the semester to find a dollar bill inside their information packets. Most students likely had the same thought: This is odd – what can a dollar get you anymore?
They were about to find out.
In a case of easy come, easy go, the freshmen were asked to give the money right back. Suddenly, all those dollar bills started adding up to real money, and excitement started to build when students learned two members of their class would be randomly selected to split the $500 pot.
The annual exercise is the brainchild of Alan Riddle, a St. Bonaventure graduate and assistant director of the university’s Bonaventure Fund, the primary vehicle by which SBU alumni support their alma mater.
It’s the generosity of many alumni that enables the university to offer each incoming student a very competitive financial aid and scholarship package, said Riddle.
“One dollar on its own doesn’t seem like much, but even that token donation grows into a meaningful amount when multiplied again and again,” he said. “It’s important for students to know that most of them are here, in part, because of the generosity of thousands of loyal alumni who love this place and want to make a St. Bonaventure education available to others.”
Riddle said he hopes this symbolic exercise sticks with the first-year students, and they choose to keep the cycle of giving churning when they graduate and move on.
Searles, a graduate of Vestal High School and a sociology major at St. Bonaventure, says it’s a lesson she won’t soon forget.
“It shows how big a difference even one dollar can make if we all pitch in,” she said. “St. Bonaventure has a great reputation as a school that gives back, and I think this will influence a lot of my classmates to continue that tradition.”
Smith, an East Aurora High School graduate who is exploring her major options, agreed. “It didn’t take long for our dollar bills to turn into real money,” she said.
In addition to providing aid to students, the Bonaventure Fund supports development opportunities for faculty and many other critical aspects of annual university operations.
About the University: Inspired for more than 150 years by the Franciscan values of individual dignity, community inclusiveness, and service, 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.