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Aiken Technical College's Giving Gala going virtual this year for scholarship fundraising

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Chris Dickson, left, chairman of the Aiken Technical College Foundation; Mary Commons, the director of the foundation and resource development; and Dr. Forest Mahan, ATC president, represent the college at the first Giving Gala to raise money for student scholarships back in 2017. This year the event will be virtual. 

Aiken Technical College is getting creative to encourage scholarship fundraising amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The college will be hosting a Virtual Giving Gala for scholarship fundraising Friday – a socially-distant, safe take on the school's traditional Giving Gala, which it has hosted in the fall for the past two years.

Funds from the event go toward a general pool that supports many different scholarships at Aiken Tech. 

Dr. Beth LaClair, foundation director at Aiken Tech, said the event went virtual this year out of concerns over social distancing.  

"Our original gala was scheduled for early October, but we just didn’t see that could be achieved in a safe, socially distant way," LaClair said. "But we still have the need to fund student scholarships, so we are turning this into a virtual event."

The gala, which will be hosted via Zoom, will include a virtual auction. Some of the items up for grabs include a $1,200 Bridgestone tire voucher, dining certificates for local restaurants and jewelry. 

LaClair said the college isn't charging a ticket fee and is instead fundraising through donations and the auction. Last year, the gala netted around $24,000 for student scholarships – and LaClair said they are on track to reach that same number this year. 

The gala will include musical entertainment from local artists and pre-recorded videos from students whose scholarships have been funded, in part, by donations collected during the gala. 

"The need for students to go to college and get jobs and get into the workforce – that need has not gone away," LaClair said. "We didn’t want cancel this event; we just wanted to align it with the current circumstances."

The Virtual Giving Gala will be held 7 p.m. Friday. The online auction opened Nov. 4 and will close Friday. For more info, visit ATC.edu.

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