Jim Amidon — Ever buy a hot dog at a Wabash College football game? What about a bag of popcorn and coke at a Wabash basketball game?
Ever wonder who the guys standing in the concession stands are?
Ever wonder what they do with the money they take in from the concession stands?
I’ve long known that the money generated by members of Alpha Phi Omega gets plugged back into our community. Until last Friday, I had no idea how much money that is.
Alpha Phi Omega is a fraternity, but it is not a social fraternity. APO is an honorary service fraternity with strong emphasis on service.
Unlike other fraternities, members don’t live in fraternity houses and about the only parties they throw are for local kids — pumpkin carving parties, Easter Egg hunts, and things like that.
There really isn’t “pledging” that goes on with APO, though becoming a member can be pretty time consuming. You see, to become a member of this national service fraternity, students have to commit to community service — literally hundreds of hours of community service.
The service projects take on all forms, like volunteering to cook up a few hundred hot dogs, bag up a couple hundred sacks of popcorn, and counting change while thousands of other sports fans are cheering on the Little Giant football and basketball teams. APO also invites local organizations to help with concessions — and the organizations get the profit.
About a week ago, Terri Fyffe — who has been involved with APO a lot longer than I’ve been at Wabash — told me a little about the finances of APO. Since APO members keep such a low profile, to the point of being invisible at times, I thought I’d share with the community the sorts of things APO does.
Terri told me that over the last six years, APO has donated over $46,000 to local charities and service agencies. That’s nearly $50,000 from a bunch of Wabash students and their faculty and staff advisors!
Last year was a record-setter. APO donated an even $10,000 to local organizations.
This year, Terri projects that Wabash’s APO chapter will give out $12,569 by the end of the year.
That’s a lot of hot dogs!
Here’s how it works: The APO guys divide up and work the concession stands during home games. Profit generated from the homecoming football game and NCAA playoff game against Wheaton totaled nearly $2500 — and that was donated to the Youth Service Bureau.
Our local Habitat for Humanity received almost $2500 from concession profits from the Monon Bell Game — and that was just the Wabash side of the field. The Boys and Girls Club of Montgomery County got a check for more than $800 from concessions sold on the other side of the field in the Bell Game.
There were seven basketball games played over the holidays that generated over $1100 in profit. Those proceeds were donated to the Elston Memorial Home Foundation.
And at the Relay for Life last month, the APO guys stood outside and grilled hot dogs and hamburgers for hours. The result was a donation of over $700 to the local chapter of the American Cancer Society.
This week they divvied up the last of their profits. The local Sunshine Vans, which provide transportation for all segments of the population, received $1,000, as did the Montgomery County Family Crisis Shelter and Habitat for Humanity.
APO donated $500 each to the Animal Welfare League, the FISH Food Pantry, the Montgomery County chapter of the American Red Cross, and the Westside Shelter/Mission.
This is good work that makes a huge impact in our community. A check for $2500 goes a long way at the Youth Service Bureau and Habitat for Humanity.
But it’s not just about money. APO members conduct blood drives, build Habitat houses, work at the Boys and Girls Club, and donate time to places like the Crisis Shelter and Animal Shelter.
And none of this would happen if not for people like Terri, Larry Frye in earlier years, and the hundreds of students who over the years have given so much of their time. Mostly, though, the students who have driven the good work of APO have been invisible to the folks in our community who have benefited from their generosity.
With that in mind, I salute APO’s leaders — Asher Weaver, Gregg Schipp, Mark Thomas, Ben Shirey, Craig Cochran, Jon Hogge, and Matt Schenkel — men on campus who have given of themselves and given back to this community.
They truly do embody the elements of the Wabash mission that include acting responsibly, leading effectively, and, most of all, living humanely.