Photos by Ralph Freso / Slideshow
This is Cherylann Galdi’s second year of witnessing Grand Canyon University’s heart to serve.
Thursday, the Director of Annual Giving saw how much it keeps growing.
The second annual Day of Giving raised more than $422,000 — about double last year's total — from 4,100 donors.
“It’s all of Lope Nation coming together and sharing what they are passionate about to raise money for what means most to them," she said. "When students are passionate about something, they’re all in. It shows how much people care, and it’s not surprising. It’s just how Lope Nation is.”
Day of Giving provides GCU with a chance to increase awareness of scholarships, programs and colleges by raising funds within a 24-hour time frame. With the development and early launch of the new annual Day of Giving website, GCU’s heart of giving has broadened its reach, going from the local to global.
“Somebody from Italy, Germany, Australia, the Dominican Republic and Canada, so Lope Nation is far and wide,” Galdi said. “The heart of GCU may be here, but the impact is absolutely everywhere.”
Students get involved by becoming Day of Giving ambassadors, and the number increased from 50 last year to about 500 this year. Ambassadors help garner support for 75 funds across GCU and encourage support by reaching out to friends, family and peers in their own personal networks.
Galdi attributes the combination of the new website and second year of giving as the reason for the jump in numbers.
“People understand what the Day of Giving is now and think, ‘Wow, we can really raise funds for what we are passionate about,’” Galdi said. “It’s really about the potential of what can come from simply posting a link and advocating for a certain campaign.”
Parents do not just offer gifts from their pockets -- they donate their time on campus as well. Parent and Family Programs Coordinator Robyn Hord, who likes to roller skate around campus, inspires parents to align their heart with God.
“We really try to encourage parents to embody what it is to be Christ-like," she said. "Giving is part of that characteristic, whether it be giving your time, talent or treasures, and this happens to be one of those treasured moments. It’s really important for us to demonstrate what being disciples of Christ looks like.”
Hord has noticed a common trend among parent volunteers.
“They’re compassionate and kind-giving and just want to help. They want to be part of what GCU is doing on a larger scale,” said Hord. “This day gives parents the opportunity to be involved and support what our students or their kids are passionate about.”
Volunteer Kirsten Lunsford, whose daughter Ella is a freshman at GCU, recruited her entire family to participate in the Day of Giving. They played the role of encouraging students to pose in front of the photo backdrop and captioning the photo #GCUGives on social media to create more student ambassadors and broaden reach.
“I brought my daughter Olivia and son Jack — we’re now an official part of the Lope family because of Ella,” Kirsten said. “I just want to be on campus all the time around the high energy spirit, and it’s just another excuse to be here and, of course, support GCU.”
And the parents definitely showed, especially during early giving. Although the Club Sports program has been involved in fundraising before, it's clear that the Day of Giving has centralized its efforts. It went from $41,360 in early donations Tuesday to a whopping $108,233.
Club Sports development coordinator Ben Canfield sees value in community, and this day gives him another chance to invest in the student body.
“I applaud the Advancement Department for starting it. I think the goal of fostering a community that gives back is really important,” he said. “It really aligns with what GCU is about, which is giving our students an awesome experience.”
The Day of Giving proceeds help Club Sports alleviate the out-of-pocket costs of students and enhance the program. overall
“Just knowing that there are funds for our students to say, ‘Yeah, we're going to nationals this year,’ or ‘We are going to get new soccer goals that will last,’ are the types of purchases that we make," Canfield said. "We gear the money toward things that will benefit the program for generations to come."
Dr. Sherman Elliott, Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, sees the servanthood shown on Day of Giving as the embodiment of what the University strives to be.
“GCU’s missional statement of addressing the world's needs and serving others is being fulfilled on this day through generous contributions and the many scholarships and programs,” he said.
L.O.P.E.S. Academy and Changing Lives are two examples of CHSS programs that benefited from Day of Giving.
“Both of these programs change lives," Elliott said. "The purpose of our college is to transform and enrich, and these programs are the direct intersect of that. The programs reach out to those with an intellectual disability who desire to experience college and provide students with volunteer opportunities to transforms lives on and off campus.”
Closing the Day of Giving festivities was Canyon Worship Live, where student artists performed their Canyon Worship 2022 songs on the Quad. It showed how last year’s Day of Giving funds impacted the College of Theology.
Worship Arts coordinator Dr. Randall Downs sees God moving on campus – especially on the Day of Giving.
“It’s an opportunity for Christians in other states to invest in students here at GCU. I’ve seen it play out in a positive light, especially this past year for the College of Theology,” he said. “It’s a chance for students to receive scholarship funds because people are so invested in what God is doing here.”
Although Day of Giving takes place once a year, the influence is relentless.
“Day of Giving is a way to tell the story of what is taking place at GCU,” Downs said. “You really see the impact and good you are making in the students’ lives. It’s a blessing to see.”
And the blessings can continue to pour in. If you'd like to donate, visit the GCU Day of Giving website. It will remain open until Sunday.
Contact staff writer Lydia P. Robles at 602-639-7665 or [email protected]