The largest annual fund-raiser for the Northeast Oklahoma A&M College Development Foundation will be held Thursday.

The sixth annual Foundation Fundraising Festival will feature live and silent auctions for dozens of items including 54 gift baskets for a variety of seasonal, holiday and themed items, Charles Banks Wilson prints. Adirondack chairs. a vacation to Big Cedar Lodge. a pheasant hunting excursion. gardening supplies. Elvis memorabilia and more.

The Festival will be held in the student activity center. Dinner and silent auction will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by a live auction at 6:30 p.m. Jim Clapp will serve as auctioneer. Tickets are $20 per person and may be purchased at the door.

The Development Foundation has extended its appreciation to all of the local businesses and vendors who donated items for the auctions. The list of donors includes more than 100 merchants in Grove, Vinita, Miami, and Joplin, Mo.

The development foundation provides an average of $50,000 in scholarships to students each year. All of the proceeds earned at the Fund-raising Festival will be returned to students in the form of scholarships. In 2006, the total amount raised was $21,000. Throughout the past five years, $72,000 was raised at the event.

“In a single evening, we can raise enough to offer a college education to an average of 30 students, said Edie Ingram, executive director for the Foundation. “The gift of an education is priceless. It changes lives.

Since the Festival began, hundreds of students have been able to attend NEO because of the generosity of those who participate in the Foundation Fundraising Festival.

Megan Crudup, an NEO freshman majoring in paralegal studies, was able to turn to the Foundation when she needed help purchasing her textbooks. Crudup said she received a scholarship through the Development Foundation that covered the cost of all of her textbooks.

“My books would have cost me around $600, she said. “Having the Foundation to fall back on has really made an impact.

Mitch Bigby, a sophomore health and physical education major, said that he was able to rely on the Foundation to cover the expenses of textbooks and fees. Such a scholarship will enable him to leave NEO without incurring any student loan debt.

“I'm also fortunate to have earned that scholarship, because I can focus on studying instead of having to worry about working to pay for those bills, Bigby said.

The deadline to apply for a scholarship from the Development Foundation for the 2008-09 year is April 1. An application is available on-line at www.neo.edu http://www.neo.edu/> . In addition, a detailed description of each scholarship the Foundation offers is available in the course catalog, which can also be found on the NEO website.

Anyone with questions may contact Ingram at 540-6250.