Students thank donors at GRACE Days picnic

Lauren Bird – Staff Writer

On Friday, March 21, Dordt students, faculty and staff gathered in the rec center from 11-1 p.m. in honor of GRACE Days (Gifts Received from Alumni and donors for Christian Education). For two hours, they were encouraged to fill out postcards expressing thanks to Dordt donors, sign a banner, eat a free meal and try out inflatable games.

But the organizers of GRACE Days want students to realize that it’s moreGraceDays6 than just an opportunity to get free food. Barb Mellema, Dordt’s Director of Annual Giving, sees it as an awareness program.

“GRACE Days is not just targeted at the students, but at the community,” said Mellema. “It’s to recognize the graciousness of others and see the donors behind the dollars. They put their money where their hearts are, and they really have a heart for Dordt.”

March 21 marks the period in the year where donations cover the rest of the school year’s tuition for every student. Robert Taylor, Dean for Campus Life, believes that it’s very important for students to recognize this.

“When students graduate, they get a phone call asking for a donation to Dordt and many times they don’t have context for this call. They still have debt and think they can’t donate to the school,” said Taylor. “GRACE Days gives context to this. Donors paid for the ends of each of their years here. They can pay it forward and do for current students what was done for them.”

A big part of GRACE Days, according to Taylor, is the students’ thanks to donors.

“The thank you is huge,” said Taylor. “It’s much more powerful for donors to hear thanks from students and to hear how their money is being used.”

Mellema agrees that hearing from students is good for donors.

“Our donors believe in what we’re doing here. They believe in our students,” said Mellema. “They give for different reasons: activities, majors, research, programs. Hearing from students in these different activities and programs lets them know that their money is being used for good.”

In order to bridge the gap that can sometimes exist between donors and students, this year Brandon Huisman, Director of Alumni External Relations, organized for a video to be created featuring students expressing their thanks. This video will be shown to churches that have raised money in offerings to Dordt.

The goal of GRACE Days is to educate students about the donor base and what donations do for them. Mark Dadisman, a senior at Dordt, has felt the effects of donors during his four years of college.

“We need to give thanks for our donors’ contributions,” said Dadisman. “They’re helping to fund our education and to help make Dordt the awesome community it is. Thanking our donors is the least we can do for them.”

Carina Pols, a Dordt sophomore, believes in spreading awareness of the graciousness of donors.

“Students need to be aware that they’re not just here because of their own or their parents’ money,” said Pols. “Imagine how much higher tuition would be without our donors!”

GRACE Days is the perfect opportunity to spread this awareness, according to Pols.

“It’s really cool to see the community come together to thank donors,” said Pols. “Not only do we get to fellowship with others, but we get to express our gratitude.”

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