(Peru, Neb.) – The Peru State College Foundation hosted their Fourth Giving Day in October. As of November 15, $73,707 has been raised from 93 unique donors.

In addition to the gifts, Peru State students contributed by participating in various volunteer events throughout the week.

“Contributing during a giving day to a small college like Peru State College is vital to bolster its educational initiatives and provide essential resources for student success,” said Ted L. Harshbarger, Executive Director of the Foundation. 

The Giving Day goals were set at securing 156 different donors on Giving Day and 156 student volunteers or hours during the week. The number 156 is significant as Peru State’s first day of classes was on October 24, 1867 – 156 years ago.

While the goal for number of donors was not reached, it appears that student volunteers may have reached the goal of over 156 hours of community service according to Carrie Burnham, Director of Student Activities and Programs at Peru State. 

At least 14 different student groups reported on their Giving Day service activities. Student organizations reporting their efforts included the Campus Activities Board (CAB), Peru Theatre Company (PTC), PRIDE, Peru Catholic Student Union (PCSU), Peru Association of Student Athletes (PASA), AIM, Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), Black Student Union (BSU), Science Club, Students Active in Leadership (SAIL), Collegiate FBLA, Optimist Club, Social Science Club, and Math Club.

CAB, PTC, and Pride all picked up trash on and around the campus while PCSU, PASA, and AIM made blankets. CEC may have had one of the more unique volunteer efforts as they made sensory bins for elementary classrooms in Auburn and Nebraska City.

“For this year’s Giving Day, CEC made sensory boxes to donate to local schools. In each of the boxes, there are a variety of several types of sensory toys like fidgets, handmade stress balls, and kinetic sand. Each of these boxes was donated to Nebraska City and Auburn Public Schools, which lack funding to be able to purchase these needed sensory items for students,” stated CEC member Mindy Bartels (Lincoln). Continuing, Bartels added, “Our student group learned how simple it is to create items, like the stress balls, as they only need a few supplies, can be done in minutes, and will be able to help a student with whatever need they may be facing, helping them stay focused in school.”

The BSU assisted at Hearts United for Animals while the Science Club and SAIL assisted with a project at the Antequarium in Brownville. Collegiate FBLA performed their annual trash pick-up on Highway 67 and the Math Club helped at the local grocery – The Market. The Optimist and Social Science groups picked up trash at Mount Vernon Cemetery.

The staff at the Foundation genuinely appreciates the efforts of the students and their organizations for their volunteerism during the 2023 giving day. Burnham stated, “Volunteering time during a small college giving day allows students to actively contribute to the growth and improvement of their educational community, fostering a sense of pride and ownership in the college’s success.” 

PASA vice president Lara Wells (Girard, Kan.) commented, “For Giving Day, PASA, PCSU, and other student-athletes, made tie blankets for the Center for Survivors in Columbus, Neb. As representatives from our respective sports on campus, it was great to collaborate with the leaders of the athletic teams. Together, we enjoyed giving back to an organization which is providing an important service in its community and region.” The Center for Survivors is a non-profit organization that is committed to serving all victims of abuse. The two student groups collaborated on the project as Madison Wittwer (Columbus), president of PCSU and a member of PASA representing cross country and dance, proposed the idea. Wittwer will be delivering the blankets over Thanksgiving break.

Contributors were able to donate to a program or fund of their choice. Project ROAR secured the most contributions – $58,508 – from 48 different donors. A total of $73,707 secured during the Giving Day made it the largest amount garnered since the inception of the event. Alumni and friends from 19 different states donated this year – the most states represented since the inception of the Giving Day.

Harshbarger noted that for the past three years, a generous donor has challenged the Foundation donors to contribute $25,000 and if that was met, the donor would add another $25,000. Once again, this challenge was met, which helps the total amount received for the Giving Day.

“Donations during these types of events play a pivotal role in enhancing academic programs, scholarships, and campus facilities, ensuring a high-quality educational experience for students in a small collegiate setting,” added Harshbarger.

To learn more about giving to the Peru State College Foundation, go to https://www.peru.edu/foundation/giving/