By Nicole Broomhead
Eight contestants from different Greek Life organizations gathered in the Lion’s Den on Thursday, Nov. 12, each dressed as a different type of angel and representing his or her respective organization. Costumes ranged from an angel in the outfield, to a Hell’s Angel and even an Angel Soft toilet paper-inspired costume. Autumn Angel — as the event is known — is a night of pageantry organized by the sisters of Theta Phi Alpha to support their philanthropies, The House That Theta Phi Alpha Built and The Don’t Stop Believing Fund.
The annual event has been run since 1999, but in 2009, the sisters created the Don’t Stop Believing Fund and switched the event’s focus to support the new fund. It was created in the name of Stephanie Coonan, a sister and Class of 2008 College student who passed away after battling stomach cancer. The Don’t Stop Believing Fund is set up as a scholarship program that supports families in similar situations. The sorority’s Beta Beta chapter website says Stephanie was “a great friend, sister and student, Stephanie is forever in our hearts.”
A portion of the proceeds are donated directly to the Don’t Stop Believing fund and another portion is donated to the winner’s philanthropy of choice. Attendees paid a $5 admission fee at the door and could also enter raffles to win gift baskets containing items like a party size bag of Doritos, a plush blanket and a “Juno” DVD.
Mainly a competition of creativity, each angel also had to employ some level of skill in two of the rounds. The evening started with a game of musical chairs, which was then followed by a candy transferring competition, where each angel had to suck through a straw to remove as much candy from the bowl as possible. Finally, a question and answer round with questions like “If you were stranded on a deserted island and you could only bring one thing, what would it be?” was played.
Alumni judges Colleen Warwick and Niki Haas, who graduated in 2015, said picking a winner was difficult because they had to decide if a costume or answer was creative enough in their personal opinions.
“Musical chairs and the candy were easy just because they had set scores, but everything else was really tough because everyone did a really good job,” Haas said.
Steve Schmidt, a sophomore chemistry major, was dressed as the aforementioned Angel Soft angel, “the softest and most absorbent of all angels,” he claimed.
He said the contestants were not told exactly what they were going to be doing until five minutes prior to the start of the event, but that didn’t stop him from entering the competition.
“I am representing Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) and I am trying to win some money for pediatric cancer research,” said Schmidt, who won the event the event and took home a prize bag. His philanthropy of choice was the B+ (Be Positive) Foundation, which supports families of children fighting cancer and cutting edge pediatric cancer research. With the win, Schmidt was able to donate money to the B+ foundation.
Other philanthropies represented included Autism Speaks, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Diseases.
Autumn Angel concluded Theta Phi Alpha’s philanthropy week, which had a variety of events to raise awareness and donations for those battling hunger and homelessness.
Shauna Murray, a junior secondary education and English major, is the co-organizer of the sorority’s philanthropy week. Preceding Autumn Angel, Murray said they also had members from the Bonner Institute for Civic and Community Engagement speak about their experiences with hunger and homelessness in the local area. They organized their first ever clothing swap on campus, held a kickball game and partnered with RedBerry, who gave 20 percent of the proceeds to Theta Phi Alpha’s philanthropy when a customer mentioned the organization on Monday, Nov. 9.
“I think there is definitely room for improvement next year, like publicizing it more, but we donated a lot of clothes and actually the clothes that we donated are helping the Bonner Thrift Project team, helping them break the world record for donating the most amount of clothes ever donated within 48 hours,” Murray said, looking back on the success of the week.
The sisters who organized the event, Kelsey Wolff and Brittany Wetreich, said they had a lot of fun putting together the event and love that they are able to help a great cause.
“My favorite part is that it brings a sense of community to Greek life and between each organization,” said Wetreich, a junior psychology major.
Wolff, a senior psychology major, believes that “it reminds everyone that philanthropy is important and it is great to be able to contribute to the community.”
Murray acknowledged that the work the Greek organizations do for their philanthropies is only a small fraction of what these causes need, but any money they can raise for them is a great help and she loves being a part of it.