If you're a friend, alumnus or supporter of Garden City Community College, it's pretty likely that you're going to be getting a phone call from us early in October.

That's because the 2009 GCCC Endowment Association Scholarship Phonathon is coming up soon, with campus and community volunteers working together to raise $80,000 for academic and technical scholarships to assist our many students.

The theme of the new campaign is "Nurturing Seeds for the Future," and it offers an important chance to assist determined and deserving students with much-needed gifts and pledges.

The GCCC Endowment Association actually opened the 2009 fall scholarship development campaign early in September, when it sent out more than 6,000 letters to alumni, supporters and friends of the college. The letters invited each recipient to make gifts or pledges toward the goal. Those not responding to the mail-based segment of the campaign in September, by the way, can count on phone calls in October.

More important than ever

The fund drive is important, I believe, because it plays a real and direct role in educating GCCC students. This year, in fact, the campaign may be more important than ever because of three critical factors:

The shape of our economy at the state and national levels.

The fact that our enrollment is hitting new records as more students seek quality postsecondary education close to home.

The growing number of southwest Kansans who are turning to GCCC for help in sharpening their job and career skills.

Last year, between the mail-in and call-out components of the campaign, the endowment association drew $81,238 in pledges and gifts, including $23,087 that arrived by mail and $58,151 from the eight nights of phone calls. Those gifts, all valuable and appreciated, ranged from as little as $5 to as much as $5,000, with 824 people pledging support. In addition, a total of 428 new donors joined the ranks of the association's supporters for the first time.

All-volunteer effort

The campaign, I want to point out, is carried out entirely by volunteers. More than 180 callers and other helpers will be staffing a bank of phones in the Endowment Room of GCCC's Beth Tedrow Student Center this year, working eight evenings over two weeks.

This year's effort will take place Oct. 5 to 8, and also Oct. 12 to 15, with a different team of campus or community volunteers making calls from 6 to 9 p.m. each evening.

The calling teams will include GCCC faculty and staff members the night of Oct. 5, plus members of the GCCC Rodeo Team and Meats Team on Oct. 6. Representatives of the GCCC Nursing Program will work the evening of Oct. 7, including faculty, staff, students and alumni. The final night of the first week, Oct. 8, will draw on community volunteers from the association's board of directors.

During the second week, a combined team will make calls Oct. 12, including students and faculty from the Tau Epsilon Lambda criminal justice fraternity, our Fire Science and Emergency Medical Services Technology Programs and the GCCC Student Government Association.

Members of the GCCC Fine Arts faculty will make calls Oct. 13, followed Oct. 14 by students from the Cosmetology Program and our campus chapter of the Hispanic American Leadership Organization. They'll be joined by volunteers from the Garden City chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens. Another group of association board members will finish the annual effort on the night of Oct. 15.

Making contact

I enjoy getting involved in the calling effort myself, in part because it's a great way to make direct contact with some of the people who have given our students such generous support in the past. In addition, we really appreciate getting the feedback about GCCC programs and projects that some of our contributors provide.

Last year, the GCCC Endowment Association was able to provide 756 GCCC students with $403,195 in scholarship awards, and that was an all-time record. The phonathon and mail drive, by the way, make up one of two major annual fund raising efforts staged by the association. The other is our well-known scholarship auction, which is scheduled each spring.

If you haven't had an opportunity to support student learning through the GCCC Endowment Association, then I hope you'll consider making a pledge this fall.

When your phone rings some evening in October, it's your chance to join your friends and neighbors in nurturing seeds for the future.

GCCC president Carol Ballantyne may be e-mailed at carol.ballantyne@gcccks.edu.