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Just one gift can make a difference for a UNG student

When you think about donations to higher education, what comes to mind? Major gifts in the tens of thousands or multi-million-dollar estates bequeathed in a will? While the University of North Georgia (UNG) has benefited from receiving a handful of those types of transformative gifts, donations of just a couple hundred dollars or less also can make a difference to a student.

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Anmarie Martin, right, talks with a fellow student. Martin returned to school to pursue a bachelor's degree thanks to a UNG scholarship.

Even $100 can help a student stay in school and fulfill the dream of a college education, said 2nd Lt. Jordan Thrun, a recent UNG graduate who, as a cadet, counseled fellow students.

"I talked to many individuals who came to me with burdens and difficulties and one of the biggest concerns that people came to me with are the financial difficulties that students and cadets have to bear," Thrun said. "And it was very easy for me to tell them that their burden and difficulties can be taken away through UNG scholarships provided by donors. You may not realize what even a small scholarship can do for cadets but I can tell you that every penny counts. Every nickel, every dime, every dollar that you generously give to us goes a long way."

Most UNG students receive some type of financial aid, from scholarships and grants to student loans, and the need for scholarships continues to rise. Scholarship support for students has been a focus for UNG President Bonita C. Jacobs since her inauguration in 2013; the UNG Foundation has awarded $5,589,887 in scholarships since 2013.

"Scholarships are essential for many students and one of my top priorities," Jacobs said. "Our alumni and community partners have responded with remarkable generosity and contributions that are truly life-changing for our students. … That support helps our students realize their full potential, which helps them become successful leaders."

Anmarie Martin, a community volunteer and former officer with the Gainesville Police Department, returned to school to pursue a bachelor's degree thanks to a UNG scholarship. In addition to her community work, Martin volunteers with the UNG Food Pantry.

"When I received the scholarship I was humbled, but then it made me go on fire when it came to my studies. I had to do better not only for me but for my institution," Martin said. "Financially, students need help. A lot of the students have jobs and mortgage payments. Your donations transcend the institution. Investing in education goes beyond the walls of the institution that you're donating to. It really helps our community, our state and it impacts the world."

With a goal of $25,000 raised by July 1, the "One Gift. Your Gift." campaign so far has raised $9,100. The online campaign also includes an option to designate funds for the new 1LT Weston Lee Memorial Scholarship Fund, established earlier this year after the UNG alumnus was killed while on patrol in Iraq.

The idea that just one gift – your gift – can make a difference in the life of a UNG student is the thought behind the fundraising campaign organized by Alberto Perez, the annual giving officer in UNG's Office of Advancement.

"It is imperative for each alumni, parent, faculty or friend of UNG to know that the millions of dollars needed to support UNG's students start and end with one gift at a time," Perez said. "This titanic effort of educating the leaders of tomorrow is not possible without the generosity of each and every one of those donors."

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