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Students Celebrate the Season by Giving Thanks

By Elizabeth Neville

Students at thanksGIVING 2015.

Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, AU students gathered to express their gratitude — by celebrating “thanksGIVING” on campus. This festive annual event hosted by the Office of Development and Alumni Relations on November 20 brings students together to celebrate the impact of philanthropy on AU’s campus. The effect of this generosity is far reaching as 80% incoming freshmen receive some form of financial aid and need-based aid to AU students has more than doubled in the past six years.  

The Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow (STAT) committee is dedicated to educating students about philanthropy and annual giving. Alumni and supporters give to every facet of AU and their gifts shape the student experience in innumerable ways. Philanthropy enhances the academic experience by providing for extra programs and services, above and beyond what tuition covers. 

Fueled by coffee, cocoa, and snacks, students learned about donors who support AU and wrote postcards to thank them. Over 160 postcards were written, with more on the way from students who were unable to attend. The STAT committee helped lead the way during thanksGIVING but each student chose to express their appreciation in their own unique way.

“Thanks so much for your help! Donating to financial aid is literally THE coolest thing I’ve ever heard of. Keep rocking on and have a happy Thanksgiving!” 
 Dylan ’15

 “Thank you for your generosity in supporting the AU Fund for Excellence. Your generous donation is making a difference in the lives of all students and myself every day. Thank you for making our education possible!” 
— Sarah ’18 

Students, including Dylan and Sarah, wrote to donors both big and small. Recipients included first-time AU donors, many of whom are recent graduates; donors who gave to the AU Fund for Excellence, which sustains the annual operating budget; and members of the Helen Palmer Kettler Society, individuals who have chosen to include AU in their estate plans. Students who received donor-funded scholarships were also able to write to the individuals who established those funds. 

For photo highlights from the 2015 thanksGIVING event, be sure to check out the Flickr album. You can also support AU with a gift today. 

Student Life

Food and Festivities Set the Table for thanksGIVING

By Mike Rowan

thanksGIVING 2013

As November drew to a close, and our minds turned to turkey, pumpkin pie, and gathering with friends and family, American University students gathered for a mini-holiday of their own, expressing their gratitude for the elements of campus that mean the most to them at thanksGIVING. While fittingly munching on turkey and cranberry sandwiches and trying their hand at Wheel of Fortune-style trivia in the festive atmosphere, they wrote letters to AU donors to articulate how the generosity of others impacts their college experience. Many also put their thanks on display by signing large posters that will be seen by AU alumni and donors around the country.

In total, 150 students wrote 155 letters of gratitude over two days, with more on the way from some who were unable to attend. Some students who stopped by on day one had such a good time that they came back the next day to write more letters, bringing friends along to join in the fun. The event was educational as well—students enjoyed learning how gifts from AU donors impact every facet of their campus experience, evidenced by the popularity of the “Wheel of Giving.”

The appreciation of the students—many of whom are recipients of donor-funded scholarships—will reach several groups of AU supporters. Scholarship recipients wrote to the donors who established their awards, while others wrote to many who contributed to the AU Fund for Excellence, which fuels the annual operating budget; members of the Helen Palmer Ketter Society, who have stated an intention to include AU in their estate plans; and first-time donors to the university, many of whom are recent graduates.

For more thanksGIVING highlights, check out the event’s Flickr album.