UNK's UgivethaNKs Project Acknowledges Donors

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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. -- The University of Nebraska at Kearney says since 2005 they have received $52.5 million in donations and scholarships.

Monday marked the kickoff of the UGiveThaNKs project at UNK which gives students the opportunity to thank donors who make their education possible.

Over the last 9 years UNK has received over 8,000 gifts from people who care about students' education.

"It was always my desire when I was young to go to college, and unfortunately we had World War II so I was denied that privilege," said Robert Sahling, a man who has donated to UNK for many years. "But I've always had a care and concern about our higher education and I enjoy supporting and creating scholarships for young people to go to school."

And students are grateful for that everyday.

"School's hard to pay for and with the help of people who believe in us, it's really nice to get those scholarships," said Freshman Ashley Padgett.

And while the biggest gifts are scholarships, that's not the only help the school gets.

"We see more technology in a classroom, we see more athletic venues, we'll see buildings for wellness, we'll see a little bit extra here and there because of donations," said Doug Kristensen, the Chancellor of UNK.

This Gratitude Project is also a way for students to learn philanthropy.

Anne McConkey, the Development Director for the University of Nebraska Foundation said, "They can leave UNK when they graduate and feel like, 'Now I understand what it's about. I appreciate people who have given to UNK before to make my experience important and now I want to return the favor.'"

For the next two weeks students will be writing personalized thank you notes to donors, something students say they're happy to do.

"We wrote Thank You letters to the Thompson Scholarship Program and I know, personally, I wrote Thank Yous to the other scholarships I received, but I think it's a great thing," said Freshman Kayla Lindell.

And the administration is overjoyed to see this support from the student body.

Chancellor Kristensen said, "I'm really proud of our students. They're a very, very dedicated group of people. The work hard, they're appreciative of their education, and for them to walk up to an older donor and say, 'Thanks,' that means a lot."

This project will continue for two weeks ending with Commencement on May 9. The hope is that this will turn into an annual project on campus.