Sweetwater Junction to Highlight ABAC Scholarship Fundraiser February 29th

Staff Report From Tifton CEO

Monday, January 13th, 2020

Fabulous food, fantastic entertainment, and a chance to assist students in securing the education of a lifetime will be the key ingredients at An Evening for ABAC scholarship fundraiser on Feb. 29.

Sponsored by the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College Foundation, Inc., the event includes a cocktail reception, silent and live auctions, dinner, and superb entertainment from Sweetwater Junction, a group with a repertoire that covers classic rock, rhythm and blues, country, and favorite hits from the past five decades.

Scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the Tifton Campus Conference Center, An Evening for ABAC grows the ABAC student scholarship fund each year so that freshmen can wrap themselves in the ABAC experience when they enroll in the 2020 fall semester. 

Now a fully credentialed four-year college, ABAC always attracts alumni to the event who remember when the college was a two-year college from 1933 to 2008.

“An Evening for ABAC in 2019 was one of the most successful in the 48 years the ABAC Foundation has sponsored the event,” ABAC Vice President for External Affairs and Advancement Paul Williams said.  “We had around 500 alumni and supporters who helped us raise over $104,000 for student scholarships.  That means 41 students got a scholarship to ABAC because of this event.”

ABAC Arts Connection Director Wayne Jones, who helps to coordinate the event for the ABAC Foundation, said the all-time record for An Evening for ABAC took place in 2018 when the event raised $106,144 which resulted in 42 ABAC student scholarships. 

Community support has been ongoing since 1972 when the ABAC Foundation sponsored a fundraiser featuring Anita Bryant to complete the funding for the Chapel of All Faiths.  The banquet attracted 426 patrons and netted $22,612.  In 1973, Eddie Arnold came to town for another ABAC Foundation-sponsored event, and the legendary program called Dollars for Scholars was born.

Dollars for Scholars became the social event of the year in Tift County with entertainers such as Ray Stevens, Louise Mandrell, Debbie Reynolds, Kathy Mattea, Marie Osmond, Helen Reddy, Lee Greenwood, Ronnie Milsap, Lorrie Morgan, and the Temptations. 

Trisha Yearwood attracted the largest crowd for Dollars for Scholars in 2006 when over 1,800 patrons attended her show.  The ABAC Foundation changed the name of the event to An Evening for ABAC in 2008 and focused its efforts entirely on raising funds for scholarships. 

Jodie Snow, Class of 2000 at ABAC and now the ABAC Foundation’s chief operating officer, knows how vital that scholarship support is to the students.

“The debt assumed by many students is staggering,” Snow said. “If ABAC students are to leave school with a minimum debt load, most will require financial assistance. The advancement office and the Foundation are crucial to maintaining affordability for an ABAC student’s education and allowing them to graduate with minimum debt.”

Tickets for An Evening for ABAC are $125 for singles, $225 for couples, and $1,500 for a reserved table which seats eight persons.  A portion of the ticket price is tax deductible. For tickets, interested persons can visit www.abac.edu/aneveningforabac or call (229) 391-4895. 

ABAC Advancement Officer Ric Stewart said sponsors are vital to the success of An Evening for ABAC.  Sponsorship levels include ABAC 1908 Circle for $15,000 which sponsors six scholarships, Presidential for $10,000 which sponsors four scholarships, Titanium for $7,500 which sponsors three scholarships, Platinum for $5,000 which sponsors two scholarships, and Gold for $2,500 which sponsors one scholarship.  Details on sponsorships are available from Stewart at richard.stewart@abac.edu  or by calling (229) 391-5234.

Tift Regional Medical Center, Colquitt Regional Medical Center, and Ashley and Dean Copelan are already on board for ABAC 1908 Circle sponsorships.  Platinum sponsors include Sodexo, Georgia Farm Bureau, Allstate Construction, Needmore Properties, and Synovus/Synovus Trust. 

Gold sponsors include AgGeorgia Farm Credit, Mr. and Mrs. James Lee Adams, South Georgia Banking Company, Robert McLendon Farms, Ardry Trading Company, Dr. Joseph J. Day, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Checkers and Captain D’s, Melvin and Anita Merrill, Georgia Power, McLendon Acres, Premium Peanut, and Vivien and Austin Scott.