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Community funds college dreams

South Colonie Dollars for Scholars grows to giving $29k last year

— South Colonie Central High School students may want to go to college, but some of them need financial assistance along the way. And a community group aimed at doing just that has grown to nearly 10 times its original size.

South Colonie Dollars for Scholars (DFS), a not-for-profit organization run by community volunteers, is part of Scholarship America, which helps choose and fundraise for several college scholarships. The South Colonie chapter is one of the 1,100 programs nationwide. Since it began in 2003, the local organization has gone from awarding three scholarships totaling $3,500 in its first year, to 54 scholarships totaling $29,000 in 2012.

“It’s benefitting the children of our district,” said Joyce Gay, South Colonie DFS awards chairperson and secretary to South Colonie Superintendent Jonathan Buhner. “It’s (starting to) become a very important part of Colonie Central High School.”

The South Colonie chapter calls for several grassroots fundraising efforts every year to endow the scholarships. On Oct. 12, the high school offered Zumba classes for a day, but with low participation, only about $120 was raised.

The organization’s next fundraising event is the third annual Phone-A-Thon on Sunday, Oct. 28, from 4 to 7 p.m. This year, about 30 students have volunteered to call South Colonie residents and ask for donations.

“We’ve raised anywhere from $2,300 to $4,000 on Phone-A-Thons,” said Nick Saccone, president for South Colonie DFS. “Most people, who know who we are, are willing to at least donate something.”

Each year, there are about 15 different levels of scholarships available that start as low as $250.

“Not all are based on academics. Some sports … a lot are basic community service. Someone who may not be a very good student but goes above and beyond for the community … that’s what I like about it … appealing to a broader base,” said Director for South Colonie DFS Michele Zilgme.

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