When Yvette Argueta, 21, sat down for a presentation on philanthropy, she didn't know exactly what she would be learning. The Elgin Community College student from Carpentersville was shocked to find out she is, in fact, a philanthropist.
As a member of ECC's honor society, Phi Theta Kappa, Argueta volunteers her time to raise money for the American Cancer Society in ECC's annual Relay For Life fundraiser. She plans to continue donating both time and money to Relay For Life and other philanthropic causes throughout her life -- and thanks to the info session Thursday, she knows her rights as a donor and terms for her giving.
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Elgin Community College was one of only three community colleges to participate in the global Student Engagement and Philanthropy Day Thursday, developed by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Besides the session on philanthropy, the college offered a "thank you booth" where students could fill out cards and express their gratitude to family members, teachers, scholarship donors and anyone else they felt has contributed to their education. Students could also sign a thank you banner the alumni association plans to use at its events.
Sarah Stayner, 19, of West Dundee wrote a thank you card to her honors English teacher from her first semester at ECC.
"She taught me how to get out of the rut and see things in a different way," Stayner said.
Besides filling out her own card, Stayner worked a volunteer shift at the thank you booth with other trustee scholars, who get part of their expenses covered because of their top performance in high school.
Diane Stredde, alumni relations coordinator, said many students receive scholarships and want to express their gratitude but don't know how to reach out to people or what to say. The day's events helped guide students.
It also helped mold the next generation of givers. Students like Argueta learned more about the statistics of giving in the United States -- about $300 billion per year -- and got positive reinforcement for giving "time and treasure."
"Every dollar matters and every hour matters," said Katherine Sawyer, executive director of the Elgin Community College Foundation. "Don't ever feel like your contribution would be too small. It's never too small."