Theta Phi Alpha Raises Money for St. Jude with “Cutest Pet Competition”


Submitted by: Hannah Hill

A collage of all of the pet participants in the competition


Every year, the Ashland University Fraternity and Sorority Life community has a lip sync competition to raise money for their campus-wide philanthropy: St Jude. The sorority Theta Phi Alpha were the champions in 2019. 

Theta Phi Alpha wanted to defend their title, but when the FSL community came forward and stated how coronavirus would impact the event, the sorority knew it wasn’t going to raise as much money as it had in the past. 

Alyssa Srail, a senior Early Childhood Education and Spanish major, offered up the idea for the FSL community to try and do other fundraisers, but none of the chapters or exec leaders wanted to rid of a long and beloved tradition from the community. 

“Theta Phi debated for weeks whether or not to participate. After a while, we decided altogether that participating in lip sync would not raise as much money for St Jude as another fundraiser,” said Srail. “After we withdrew our participation we began brainstorming ideas. My father’s work had done a pet competition over quarantine for their business and it was just a fun community builder, but I had suggested ways to make it into a fundraiser, and the chapter loved it! 

The competition was opened to the general public and the winner will receive a pet gift basket for being voted the cutest. Anyone could enter their pets for a $5 submission fee. Then, the contestant would send a picture of their pet to Theta Phi Alpha’s social media pages. 

“We made a huge PowerPoint of all 49 pets after submissions closed. We totaled $245 on submissions alone,” said Srail. “Then we had our first round of voting for the Top 10 to move on. One vote was one dollar, so if someone donated $15 under their pet’s name, their pet now had 15 votes! This round raised us $871.”

The second round of voting for the Final three pets ended on Nov. 8. This round totaled $261, with the fundraiser’s total now coming to $1,377. 

The third round of voting for the cutest Pet began Nov. 9 and will end Friday, Nov. 13 with the winner being announced on Saturday. 

The women of Theta Phi Alpha made the best out of these troubling times during the COVID-19 pandemic by putting others’ needs first. Through this fundraiser, Hannah Hill, a junior graphic design major, believes her chapter realized that not everything in life will always work out the way they intended it to. 

“For me personally, I have gained the knowledge that not everything will work out as planned,” said Hill. “If you think that something is not going well and you do not feel confident in what you are doing, stop while you are ahead and look forward to a potentially different approach!  As a chapter, however, I believe that we have learned what it means to support one another.  Yes, people are going to vote for their own pet, but I witnessed that our girls and our families also supported other’s pets, too!”

According to Srail, another important lesson that the chapter learned is that just because something is tradition, doesn’t mean they have to stick to it. 

“Sometimes change is a good thing. COVID is not what we expected but we can adapt and help out others in creative, new ways. We still totally respect the community for wanting to raise money for St Jude through Lip Sync though,” said Srail. “We love being a part of the community and will still support the other chapters in the competition!” 

The chapter learned the importance of communicating and working together to get a huge project underway and be very successful in a short amount of time. The women also discovered the power of social media when it comes to donating and making a difference. 

“Overall, this fundraiser has been a HUGE success for us! Thus far we have raised over $1,000 dollars from just our chapter alone,” said Hill. “I am excited to say that we as a chapter, and as a part of Ashland University’s FSL community, are able to give to those who need it more, and that we are able to give a helping hand!” 

Be sure to check the Theta Phi Alpha Instagram page, @tpa_ashland on Saturday, November 14 for the winner of the Cutest Pet Competition!