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Modest gift-giving with big potential: here's how

If you've always hoped to contribute a magnificent million to the college of your choice but haven't yet acquired the means, you may want to consider an alternative and immediate opportunity to strengthen the education of grade and high school students in your own or a nearby community at low cost.

Many talented persons are willing to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with young people, either without remuneration, for a small honorarium, or for their expenses, which may range from taxi fare for an individual to charter bus costs and costume rentals for a theatrical group.

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More than 500 enrichment programs are scheduled for public schools here this year by School Volunteers for Boston Inc. (SVB). Some of the programs involve groups such as the Children's Theater of the Cambridge School of Weston; some feature live creatures, such as the popular ''Birds Go to School'' program.

Recently SVB arranged school visits by Shirley Glubok, a much-traveled author of some 45 books, a Children's Book Guild award winner two years ago, and a presenter of gallery talks at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

''My philosophy,'' Shirley Glubok told two art classes at Bostin Latin Academy, ''is nothing is too good for students. I believe masterpieces have something to say to you.''

Then she showed slides of masterpieces in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum.

Though she identified the historical period and artist (when known) of these works, she let the pictures speak for themselves - and it appeared that her attentive audience at the academy was ''listening visually.''

''We need more of these programs,'' said art teacher Vincent Frattasio at Boston Latin Academy. His art students, who attended the program, said that he integrates art appreciation in his teaching of studio art courses, so they recognized some of Ms. Glubok's pictures as friends to whom their art teacher had previously introduced them.

Within a three-day visit Ms. Glubok spoke at five Boston public schools, varying her presentation according to the age of the audience. Both Boston Latin Academy and South Boston High had the survey program, ''Masterpieces of Art;'' her subject at Phyllis Wheatley School in Roxbury was ''The Art of the Comic Strip;'' Dearborn Middle School and Ralph Waldo Emerson Elementary School, both in Roxbury, had a program entitled ''Knights in Armor.''

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Her travel expenses were paid by an anonymous philanthropist who believes in ''lighting a candle instead of cursing the darkness'' Ms. Glubok contributed the talks without personal remuneration.

She invited the students to visit the Metropolitan and see the originals; she also spoke appreciatively of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The school volunteers organization receives 70 percent of its funds from charitable foundations, individuals, and business corporations. The remaining 30 percent comes from its contract with the Boston School Department.

SVB has been active in the statewide Massachusetts School Volunteer Program and is affiliated with National School Volunteers of America Inc., Suite 320, 701 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Va. 223l4, the parent organization of similar groups nationwide.

Like the sponsor who paid for Ms. Glubok's coming from New York to Boston, there must be in every community individuals who can afford and would like to provide some particular enrichment program for grade and high school students. Undoubtedly there are many ''experts'' like Ms. Glubok ready to accept such invitations.

It seems a grand way for generous individuals or groups to become educational philanthropists.

Would-be philanthropists and performers, however unselfed their motives, also need to recognize that schools have very demanding schedules and that not every institution could accept a program, even if it were cost-free.

Said Peggy McKibben of SVB: ''We find a program needs to fit the curriculum, to be a useful part of the learning objectives teachers have set. In this instance, two art teachers brought their classes to Ms. Glubok's talk. Teachers of other subjects might resent having their students released from class time for a program outside their own subject area.'' An organization like SVB can sift and schedule program offers and acceptances.

SVB screens prospective givers of such programs. ''We want to know what people plan to present; usually we choose the programs we think will be useful, '' says Mrs. McKibben.

Asked whether the organization seeks feedback after a presentation, Mrs. McKibben said completion of an evaluation form is requested but not always received.

At present SVB doesn't have a list of would-be private philanthropists and rarely can offer an honorarium, ''but we'd be glad to facilitate that,'' she said.

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