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Chapter Spotlight

Sigma Xi (University of North Carolina Pembroke)

Two years ago, our Sigma Tau Delta Chapter, Sigma Xi, located at the University of North Carolina Pembroke in North Carolina, faced a financial impasse. Though we held semi-annual poetry readings, occasional used book sales, and induction dinners for newly elected members and alumni, we wanted to do more and see more. Unfortunately, we had very little money, as well as little interest in playing the grand "Find the Money Game." Smitten with the idea of attending the fast-approaching 2003 International Convention, members and officers labored through brainstorming sessions for fund-raising ideas. The proverbial suggestions to wash cars and sell baked goods were generated. Though we recognized the potential to earn some extra cash with these reliable fund-raising events, we sought a larger catalyst to springboard our plan of action.

Finally, a Eureka was heard (perhaps not literally) as one of our members had an epiphany. "What if we held an auction, an auction for our department? We could all donate items and then invite the Faculty and Staff for an evening of bidding. And all the proceeds would go towards our trip to the Convention." This suggestion was immediately received as an excellent one, and as members and officers talked their way through the details of the event, the idea sounded more and more lucrative. We soon set a date and easily convinced a Faculty member to host our auction in her home. Our sponsor, Dr. Jesse Peters, volunteered to serve as Auctioneer for the evening. Each of us agreed to bring various items for donation on the evening of the auction. Our goal was to simply raise enough money to supplement the travel expenses and registration associated with the Convention for those who were able to attend. We were in for a surprise.

On the night of the auction, Sigma Tau members as well as Faculty, Staff, and students streamed into our host's home, all bearing items of variable size, function, and value. Eventually, all arrived and Dr. Peters introduced the purpose of the auction and set the rules for bidding, claiming, "This is a lot like Ebay, but live!" One member was assigned the task of bringing items into the auction area from the room in which they were all originally put down; another member grabbed a notebook and pen, preparing to write down who won what item, the winning bid amount, and other logistics involved with each item. All sorts of items had been donated, including: pink elephant watering cans; an original painting by one of our members; manual labor volunteered by a Faculty member; a weekend at a Faculty member's beach house; jewelry; lingerie; volunteered pet grooming services; cakes; toys; and a Faulkner T-shirt. All items impelled polite but competitive bidding among Faculty, Staff, and students. Re-assured by the idea that their money would benefit Sigma Xi members, everyone bid excitedly and often. The event lasted almost three and a half hours!

Everyone anxiously awaited the total amount we had received. We graciously expected to make a few bucks on the night, but when the total was announced, we couldn't even articulate our excitement. Thanks to the original idea and the generosity of our department's Faculty, Staff, and students, we raised over $1,500.00! This amount far surpassed our goal and allowed us to comfortably fund future events. Just recently, we celebrated the 2nd anniversary of our idea by holding another departmental auction, an activity we hope will become an annual routine. This time around, we were able to net over $1,100! With the ballast of our refurbished budget, we were able to pay for the printing of t-shirts as well as the production of an original product, both of which we will sell at this year's Convention (look for our merch. table!). Of course, we could not have raised these large sums without the help of Dr. Jesse Peters for serving as an entertaining auctioneer, Drs. Nancy Barrineau and Bonnie Kelley for hosting our event twice now, and our members and officers past and present.

Our auctions not only afforded us opportunities to raise money; they also provided our department's students and Faculty a chance to get to know each other better. More than anything, these events jump started our effort to become a more active chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, a goal in which we had great faith. We hope that sharing this idea will help any and all chapters with the same aspiration as we can now attest that doing is believing.

Submitted by Austin Tremblay, Pres. Sigma Xi Chapter, 2003-04