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Bears Give Back 2024 sets a new fundraising record

On Tuesday, March 26, Lenoir-Rhyne University hosted its seventh annual giving day, Bears Give Back, and set a new record for total dollars raised in 24 hours.

Students confer in front of the Cromer Center fireplace for Bears Give Back

785 generous alumni, families, friends and students contributed $847,320 in support of the academics and experiences that make Lenoir-Rhyne special in the hearts and minds of students and alumni. These funds will provide immediate and direct support to students in the form of scholarships, innovative curriculum and instruction, study abroad opportunities, access to events around the United States, athletic programs and other elements of a multi-faceted liberal arts education. 

“Each year the Bear family unites to help ensure the university can continue providing opportunities that change students’ lives,” said Cat Niekro, vice president of institutional advancement. “We’re excited and grateful to see 2024 set yet another new record that reflects LR unity.”

Students hug and give a thumbs up at Bears Give Back

Match and challenge gifts play an important role in encouraging widespread involvement in Bears Give Back. This year a group of anonymous donors issued a challenge to ramp up that encouragement by offering a $600,000 donation when the total number of donors – making gifts of any size – reached 600. The final total of donors exceeded that goal by 30 percent.

Another ongoing Bears Give Back tradition is student involvement in the day, giving their time to thank donors personally and sharing their stories to show how the donations collected have changed their lives for the better. Students also gathered to make their own contributions to causes important to them, such as the Senior Class Gift.

Amaya Saunders and another student play giant Connect Four at Bears Give Back

“It was a really exciting day. We had a goal to engage 50 student donors total, and we’d reached 40 before 11 a.m. We’d passed 50 by lunchtime,” said Amaya Saunders ’24, one of the coordinators for the Senior Class Gift. “I just want to thank everyone who donated for coming out – it was great to see you, and your support makes a real difference.”

Diego Sanjuan ’24, who coordinated with Saunders, added, “The Senior Class Gift shows we care. It’s the best way we can give back and say, ‘We had an exceptional experience at LR, and we want others to have that same experience.’”

Multiple campus organizations, including the Student Government Association, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Office of Student Involvement, and the Office of Institutional Advancement, sponsored giveaways and games throughout the day to build student enthusiasm and involvement. 

Student holds a sign reading 'We are community'

“Bears Give Back is a giving day, but it’s also a celebration of the remarkable unity in our campus community,” said Liz Cox, M.A. ’22, assistant vice president for development. “The volunteers from diverse organizations and the participation of faculty, staff and alumni embody the spirit of ‘We are LR.’” 

Established in 2018, LR’s annual day of giving has shown steady growth in donations. The first campaign raised nearly $98,000 from almost 300 donors. In 2023, the campaign set a record by raising $809,744 from 829 donors. 

Donors can continue supporting LR students anytime with a gift to the university. For more information about making a gift through the fiscal year end of May 31, 2024, visit our Giving page.

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