Amid the sea of Hokies enjoying a Drillfield concert headlined by Anderson .Paak on Oct. 11 were a half-dozen seniors who were there not just to dance and have a good time, but to make a difference for the future of their school.

The concert marked the kickoff of Virginia Tech’s fourth-ever national fundraising campaign — Boundless Impact: The Campaign for Virginia Tech — as well as the Senior Class Gift Campaign for 2020. Members of the Class of 2020 worked a booth at the concert, where they encouraged fellow students to make gifts.

The Senior Class Gift Committee will organize multiple events and experiences throughout the year to bring seniors together and encourage participation in the Senior Class Gift Campaign. Held each year, the campaign’s purpose is to create a culture of philanthropy by asking seniors to make their first gift to whichever area of Virginia Tech has most inspired them.

One of the first initiatives is the chance for students who give by Oct. 27 to win exclusive passes to jump on the Lane Stadium field and cheer the Hokie football team as it comes out to play Pittsburgh on Nov. 23. Future plans for the Senior Class Gift Campaign include collaborative events with each individual college and a 100 Days to Graduation celebration in February.

“My whole mission is to make memorable events and bring the whole class together to commemorate our time here,” said Greg Klatt, committee member and 2020 class president. “As students, we are here for academics, but it’s the experiences that really bring us together.”

The Class of 2020 hopes to surpass the bar of participation that the Class of 2019 set last year, when more than 900 members of the senior class gave back to Virginia Tech. This year, the Senior Class Gift Committee aims to inspire 1,500 classmates to give.

“I think that it shows unity as a class if we can surpass the number of gifts that we want,” said committee member Melanie Christ. “It is a pretty high goal, but we’ve been growing steadily every year. I really think that we can do it. We have shown that we can be the best of the best through events like Relay for Life. This is just another way to prove that.”

Virginia Tech students Sam Felber and Neha Shah
Sam Felber and Neha Shah are co-chairing the Senior Class Gift Campaign for 2020.

Senior Class Gift Committee co-chairs Sam Felber and Neha Shah expressed their intention to connect with their classmates in their final year at Virginia Tech in order to achieve the class gift goal.

“I think the best way to encourage people to give back is to unlock their connection to the school,” Felber said. “It’s all about forming personal connections with people and helping them to think about the way Virginia Tech has done that. Everyone has a story about why this place means so much to them. We all have a special connection to this school, and our goal is to help students understand why it is so important to give back and how it can sustain the same type of positive experience for students in the future.”

Shah traveled farther from home than many Hokies to attend Virginia Tech. The welcome she received during her transition to Blacksburg was a determining factor in her decision to lead the committee this year.

“I’m from San Francisco,” Shah said. “Coming here to a completely different area was scary, but I felt so welcome. I’ve been able to assimilate and get so much out of this amazing school. I just want to show that I am prepared to give back to my school, even if it might be in a small way. Tech has given me so many friends and connections to set me up for my future, and I want everyone who is able to resonate with that to see and give back in any way they can as well.”

Senior Class Gift contributions can be divided up depending on the preference of the donor. Committee members explained that their own gifts went to the programs that had the greatest impact on their personal Virginia Tech experience.

In addition to giving, students can get involved in the Senior Class Gift program as volunteers. The committee continues to welcome members of all classes, but seniors in particular. Participation in the committee allows seniors to make the most of their final year at Virginia Tech.

“This is our last way to give back while we’re still students,” Christ said. “I like that the Senior Class Gift Committee focuses on seniors because, if you want to get involved, a lot of clubs aren’t looking for seniors. Being on the committee is a great final way to get involved with campus life. It’s really important that we give back to Virginia Tech as much as it gave us. This is just a very small start.”

Committee members’ individual reasoning for participating vary, but they all see a need and realize they can make a difference. Despite what some students may think, tuition only covers a portion of the cost of all student experiences. The many programs, organizations, and services that the university offers are made possible by private support as well.

In the three years the senior class giving campaign has existed in its current form, it has grown considerably each year. This year, more than 100 seniors have already expressed interest in joining the committee, a large increase compared to last year.

“We’re excited by the momentum the Senior Class Gift Campaign has recently achieved — and by the great potential we see in the Class of 2020,” said Shaun Grahe, Virginia Tech’s director of student and young alumni engagement.

To join the Senior Class Gift Committee, contact nehas@vt.edu or samf97@vt.edu. The committee meets biweekly on Mondays at 5:15 p.m. in the Holtzman Alumni Center. More information on the Senior Class Gift Campaign is online.

Written by Rosie Hutchison.