Annual gala connects donors, students

by REBEKAH HARVEY

A live auction, silent auction, and presentation of awards are among the highlights of the upcoming 21st annual South Plains College Scholarship Gala

The Gala, hosted by City Bank Texas, is scheduled for February 28 at the Mallet Event Center in Levelland. The theme for this year’s event is “Unlimited Opportunity.”

According to Julie Gerstenberger, director of development and alumni relations at SPC, more than $26,000 was raised last year that went directly to student scholarships.

“I think that’s why we have such great community support,” said Gerstenberger, “because people see what an impact it really does have.”

According to Gerstenberger, the challenge is never raising enough money, but having enough students apply for the scholarships.

“We always welcome more students to apply,” said Gerstenberger. “If we don’t have the money, we’ll find the money.”

The event also includes many students, such as the Campus Ambassadors and Miss Caprock, Rebecca Gililland.

“It’s very much an opportunity for me to let the attendees know who our students are and how great they are,” said Gerstenberger.

This year’s feature entertainment also will be provided by students. Three ensembles featuring students in the Creative Arts Department will perform throughout the evening. Normally, Gerstenberger tries to bring in former students, but occasionally she asks the Creative Arts Department if any students can perform.

“It’s always fun to have our former students back,” said Gerstenberger. “But our current students are just alumni waiting to happen.”

According to Gerstenberger, having so many students involved helps prospective and current donors to see the faces of the scholarship recipients.

“These students who are current probably don’t realize the impact that SPC will have,” says Gerstenberger, “but they certainly can tell us how the experience is impacting them immediately.”

For Gerstenberger, it is important to connect the different generations of students, whether current or former, and tell their stories.

“It bridges ages, but it also bridges those different roles,” said Gerstenberger. “‘I’m just a community member. I never went to SPC.’ But when they see that the students and the scholarship recipients, that they’re real live people with families and stories and futures, it really does help. It makes a difference.”

Every year, the SPC Foundation honors a donor by presenting them with the Pacesetter Award. The 2019 honorees are Mr. and Mrs. Shari Hill of Redmond, Washington.

Highlights of the Gala include the silent and live auctions. The Development and Alumni Relations office put together a catalog of all items up for auction in order to encourage bidding.

Among the items for the silent auction is a Schlitterbahn resort stay, courtesy of KLTV Radio in Levelland, and a Texas Tech Club Wine Dinner for four, courtesy of the Texas Tech Club. Included in the live auction is a trip to New Orleans, donated by the SPC Foundation Board.

This year’s Gala will also have a pull comprised of 45 Kendra Scott jewelry pieces. Guests can purchase a chance to win for $65. Atchinson Jewelry in Levelland is providing the jewelry. Pieces range in value from $65 to $250.

Up for raffle at the Gala is a balloon ride at the Albuquerque Balloon Festival, provided by Kaua Gallengly, and a Roomba, courtesy of Benchmark Business Solutions.

Along with mentioned items, many unique handmade items will be included in the auction. All of the proceeds from the auctions will go to scholarships.

The goal for the 2019 Scholarship Gala is not only to raise funds for student scholarships, but also connect donors with the recipients.

“It helps our guests who are prospective donors,” Gerstenberger said, “and certainly it helps those who are current donors to see the face of the scholarship recipients. Otherwise, it’s just numbers on paper, and we want it to be more than that.”