Photos: Junior student, Will Wise, social studies major from Abilene, writes thank-you note; Nancy Jones looks over notes before they are sent, as Wise hand-addresses envelope
Hardin-Simmons University senior Stephen Lester will graduate this May with a degree in marketing. For the last four years, he has sat down every spring to write thank-you notes to the people who have helped make it possible for him to attend HSU.
“The annual thank-you note writing event started before I came here 16 years ago,” says Cheryl Purcell, assistant vice president for advancement at HSU. Students who receive funds from endowed scholarships come to the two-day event in Moody Center to show their appreciation to the people who have never met them, but support them financially in their studies at HSU.
Members of HSU’s Round Table, wives of HSU faculty, staff, and administration, volunteer their time to proofread the thank-you notes before they are sent to donors. Nancy Jones says she enjoys seeing the students and providing suggestions on wording and double-checking spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
Purcell says, “The thank-you notes are very meaningful to our donors. I have been in the homes of donors who keep every thank you note they ever received from students, and who proudly show them to me, whether they keep them in boxes or in a scrapbook. I was in the home of a donor couple recently and they had photos of their scholarship recipients on their refrigerator, along with a photo postcard of students holding ‘thank-you’ signs.
“We have one donor who lives on the east coast who has never even been to Texas, but her mother attended HSU and established a scholarship in memory of her grandfather, who was a faculty member at HSU. This donor continues to give to the scholarship every year. She said the most rewarding part of giving is the heartfelt notes she receives from students.”
Students who receive endowed scholarships also hand-address the envelopes that contain the personal, hand-written notes. Purcell says, “The notes really stand out because so few people send hand-written notes these days. I have a donor who called me crying because she was so touched by the beautiful thank-you note that her scholarship recipient wrote.”
Purcell says one of our seniors, Graicy Solis, wrote totally personal, beautifully worded letters to the donor of her endowed scholarships, the Fairy Thelma Orr Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund and the Fay Campbell Routh Endowed Memorial Fund. “Her letters were so precious, I photocopied them.”
Pointing to a pre-printed postcard with photos of students holding thank you signs, Purcell says, “In addition to the hand-written notes, students also write short thank-you messages to donors who support other things such as our Annual Scholarship Fund and athletics.
“The event also gives HSU the opportunity to educate students about the importance of saying ‘thank you’ and having a grateful heart,” adds Purcell. “We are able to share with students that the scholarship funds they receive come from alumni and friends of the university who want to make a difference for others, and that one day, they will have the chance to give back to help those who follow after them.”