If you're among the many friends, alumni and supporters of Garden City Community College, you've probably received a message recently from the GCCC Endowment Association.

That's because the association is conducting its 2012 fall scholarship development campaign, under the theme of "Branding the Future," and approximately 7,500 individuals are being contacted.

The campaign is a two-part endeavor, and both elements are designed to raise funds for academic and technical scholarships, as well as projects to support academics. The two components include:

* An appeal by mail, which actually began in late August, offering an initial opportunity to provide contributions.

* The 33rd Annual GCCC Scholarship Phonathon, which is planned in October.

Obviously, since this is an election year, you may be hearing from more than one campaign this season. However, the drive involving the Endowment Association will be concluding much earlier, and it is drawing support from people of many different interests, viewpoints, backgrounds, philosophies and affiliations. What they all share, of course, is a belief in the power and importance of education in changing lives and creating a more positive future.

The association was founded in 1967, with a treasury of exactly $681, and last year it provided more than $482,000 in academic and technical scholarships to 1,162 GCCC students, as well as $50,000 in grant funds to support numerous projects and programs. The combined direct mail drive and phonathon produced a $80,117 toward that amount.

Season of change

GCCC and the Endowment Association have seen, and helped generate, a great deal of change since that first year, and one of those changes took place recently when Jeremy J. Gigot took charge as the new executive director, with the mail segment of the endeavor already under way. This will be the new leader's first phonathon, and the goal is to raise at least $80,000.

Among other changes attributable to the college and fundraising organization are the careers that GCCC graduates have launched and maintained. Individuals who have benefited from Endowment Association scholarships are serving today as paramedics, journalists, firefighters, accountants, musicians, law enforcement officers, social workers, doctors, nurses, welders, teachers and principals.

Others are attorneys, child care providers, researchers, weather forecasters, counselors, artists and designers. In addition, there are GCCC alumni working as coaches, stock brokers, industrial producers, computer networking specialists, engineers, entrepreneurs and managers. They're also serving in a wide range of additional fields and professions.

Calls coming up

Eight teams of campus and community volunteers will launch the call-out portion of the campaign next week, phoning from the Endowment Room of the Beth Tedrow Student Center Monday through Oct. 4 and again Oct. 8 through 11.

A different team will work each evening, and Verizon Wireless is serving as a sponsor by loaning phones and donating all calling minutes. Callers will include GCCC employees on Monday; faculty, students and alumni of the GCCC Nursing and Allied Health Department on Tuesday; members of the GCCC meat judging team and Student Government Association Oct. 3; and another combined team Oct. 4, involving the Hispanic American Leadership Organization and representatives of the criminal justice, Fire Science and Paramedic Program students and faculty.

The GCCC rodeo team will work the phones Oct. 8; followed Oct. 9 by fine arts faculty, staff and students; and Oct. 10 by students and faculty in the GCCC cosmetology program. Area and community residents who serve on the Endowment Association Board of Directors are planning to wrap up the calls on Oct. 11.

Results from 2011

Last year's direct mail and calling campaign drew the following:

* A total $33,492 that arrived by mail

* A total of $46,625 from the eight nights of phone calls.

Individual gifts ranged from $5 to $2,500, with 905 pledges coming in over the phones, including an impressive 268 from first-time donors.

The phone volunteers actually visited with 1,152 people in 2011, averaging more than 140 completed calls per evening. This year, as in the past, those not responding by the end of September can count on phonathon calls in October.

The phonathon and mail drive comprise one of two major annual fund raising projects sponsored by the association. The other is a well-known auction that takes place each spring. Nothing offers greater strength to a community or country than a well educated public, so when your phone rings some evening soon, as part of what may be the most important campaign reaching southwest Kansas, we hope you'll act on your opportunity to join us in "Branding the Future."