Giving Joy Day 2024 is a Wrap

April 1, 2024
Students jumping and laughing

Eastern Washington University’s annual Giving Joy Day wrapped up on Wednesday after rallying Eagles from throughout the country to join forces to support student success.

Giving Joy Day festivities kicked off on Tuesday at the Catalyst building. On Wednesday,  the celebration moved to the Arévalo Mall, where students, faculty and staff came together to enjoy cupcakes and celebrate Eastern.

As the university’s largest, single-day philanthropic effort, Giving Joy Day raises funds that fill crucial gaps for students and programs, as state funding and tuition can’t cover all the financial need.

“Last year, we raised more than $456,000 for student scholarships and program support. With our community’s help, we can reach an ambitious $500,000 goal this year that will go right to work helping our students stay in school and earn their degrees,” says Linda Safford, director of Annual Giving.

This year, for the first time, Safford and her team reached out directly to the faculty and staff, who make a daily impact for students, to ask for support in creating opportunities and bolstering the safety net for our Eagles. Safford expects the processing of gifts will be finalized within a couple of days. (Stay tuned for GJD highlights and news about the total raised.)

Samuel Steege, a hardworking 22-year-old communications studies major, received crucial support last fall thanks to generous people who made gifts for Giving Joy Day 2023.

Sam Steege is pictured outside on the university campus.
Sam Steege took a minute to share his gratitude for the EWU supporters who helped him continue his path forward.

Steege was working as a server at Farmhouse Café, and preparing for his junior year at EWU, when he got a call from his father asking for help evacuating the family from their Medical Lake home.

He quickly left work and raced over to help his parents and siblings pack up some possessions and the pets. Two hours later, the Gray Fire destroyed their home and the family lost everything. The Cheney home that Steege rents from an older brother became temporary housing for the family while they developed a plan to rebuild their lives.

All told, the fire, just miles from Cheney, claimed 240 homes and displaced thousands of people.

“I’ve seen it in the movies, and heard about it, but never thought it would happen to me,” Steege says.

Steege, who covers college and living expenses with education benefits he receives as member of the National Guard, supplemented by his part-time job and help from his parents, recalls that tuition was coming due. Understandably, his parents were unable to help.

The EWU Student Emergency Fund filled that gap – providing assistance that kept Steege moving forward toward his degree.

“It feels good to know that there’s resources to help in such crazy, unexpected times like this,” says Steege, who is one step closer to his dream career in sports communication thanks to the “genuinely nice people” that support EWU students.

Sam, pictured working on a computer in the university's Advancement department, is doing research and storytelling that supports student success.
Now a senior, Sam Steege is working in the university’s Advancement department, doing research and storytelling that supports student success.

Today, Steege is a senior working an internship for the EWU Advancement Department. An internship stipend from the Krumble Foundation helps him cover expenses while gaining professional experience providing research and content for the university.

Providing well-timed support – even a few hundred dollars for books, food and rent – can help students bridge difficult times, Safford says.

That’s why this year’s fundraising focus is on Eagle Strong, the university’s general scholarship fund. Although giving in all areas is enthusiastically appreciated (visit ewu.edu/give to learn more) this fund meets needs that are specific to each student, removing obstacles and putting a life-changing degree from EWU within reach.

Please take a minute to visit GivingJoyDay.org to learn how you can help.

Join us today, starting at noon on the Arévalo Mall, for a celebration in honor of Giving Joy Day. 

  • The event features delicious cupcakes, a golf cart shuttle, and a few remarks from President McMahan in appreciation of the supporters who make a difference for EWU students.
  • Stop by the Eagle Store. The store is offering special incentives for people to support Giving Joy Day. Make a gift of $10 and receive a free hat Give $20 and receive a free sweatshirt. Or, give $30 or more and receive the hat and sweatshirt. (There’s a limit of one hat and sweatshirt per customer.)
Spokane Mayor Lisa Brown stopped by the Catalyst on Tuesday with a proclamation in support of EWU's Giving Joy Day.
Spokane Mayor Lisa Brown stopped by the Catalyst on Tuesday with a proclamation in support of EWU’s Giving Joy Day.


Spokane County leaders issued a proclamation in support of Giving Joy Day. Pictured left to right are commissioners Josh Kerns and Amber Waldref, EWU’s Linda Safford and Barb Richey, and commissioners Mary Kuney and Al French.