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Theta Phi Alpha hosts fourth annual Sapphire Ball

Bree Gannon

Bree Gannon

Steven Shrenkel

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Since 2015, the Theta Phi Alpha sorority has a tradition each year for a night that is not only filled with fun with, but raises money for charities as well.

That tradition is the annual Sapphire Ball.

This year was the fourth time that the Sapphire Ball took place at Ashland University, with the event being held on Feb. 10 at 6 p.m.

The ball in AU’s Redwood Hall included a dinner and silent auction afterwards with tickets priced at $20 per person for both and $10 per person for just the auction.

Nearly all the proceeds went to charity.

Sami Eron, the President of Theta Phi Alpha, said that many people were invited to attend the yearly ball in hopes of raising as much money as possible for charity.

“We tried to get the word around and get as many as possible to attend the ball,” Eron said. “We invited people from around campus, our families and alumni from our chapter to all come and help raise money for our philanthropy.”

The sorority not only had to spread the word about the ball but get donations for the silent auction as well.

“Everyone in our sorority took the time to reach out to the local communities to get donations,” Eron said. “We all did a lot of work for the Ashland community, our home communities and our families to get the word around and raise money for the event.”

There were many ways that the sorority reached out to the community said Eron.

“We sometimes had a table set up in the student center to help get the word out to AU’s students,” Eron said. “We also sent letters to local businesses talking about the event and what they could do to help.”

Many of those local businesses that helped to put on the event were from downtown Ashland.

“We especially reached out to our downtown businesses here in Ashland,” Eron said. “A lot of them donated and were very supportive of what we were trying to do.”

Abby Hayes, the sorority’s new philanthropy chair, immediately saw the results of their efforts to spread the word with attendance at the ball this year.

“We sold close to 300 tickets for the silent auction this year with a lot more people also purchasing dinner tickets than usual,” Hayes said. “That took up a lot more space than planned for so next year we’re probably going to have to move to another building since Redwood is shrinking.”

With such big numbers attending the ball, Hayes said she was hopeful that this year’s event would be a big hit.

Cait Davis

“There was a lot of people coming this year, so I had hoped it would be a hit,” Hayes said. “I was a little nervous since this was the first ball that I had put on.”

Six to eight months of planning went into the ball said Eron.

“Our philanthropy chair did most of the work, but we all started planning for the ball around six to eight months ago,” said Eron. “It was definitely a long process.”

Hayes had to dive head first into planning the ball after the chair before she got a position with the campus St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital executive board, leaving the details of the ball in limbo.

“I had picked up the planning for it about two months ago after the position had been handed down to me,” Hayes said. “I just came into the position, so I had to do a lot very quickly since there were still many things to do.”

Even though there were still many details to be worked out, a good majority of the planning for the Sapphire Ball had already been done said Hayes.

“The girl before me had scheduled it and gotten the date, location and times,” Hayes said. “She had a lot of things like that done and prepared some of the donations. I had to take over from that point on and plan everything else.”

The past two months had been a whirlwind of activity for Hayes, since taking over the job.

“I had to make sure girls were getting donations and make tickets,” Hayes said. “I needed to make sure girls were selling those tickets while also planning food options with catering services. After that, I had to organize the tables with what was going to be in the bids and raffles. This all took place two months before the ball.”

Even though the planning for the Sapphire Ball was a challenge for Hayes, she said that she always kept telling herself how close she was to the finish line.

One of the philanthropies that the sorority raised money for included the Glenmary Home Missioners.

“Some of our money is donated to the Glenmary Home Missioners,” Eron said. “They are a group in the Appalachian area that helps to support the homeless and their local communities.”

Besides the Missioners, Theta Phi Alpha also donated the money raised from the ball to Camp Friendship, a place where underprivileged children can go to camp.

“We also donated our money to this camp called Camp Friendship, where kids cannot afford to go to camp,” Eron said. “At Camp Friendship they are provided with everything they need including bedding, toiletries, clothing and activities. Those kids are all referred to by social workers.”

Even though those are the two main charities that they work with, Theta Phi Alpha also continues to try and help their own local communities in any way possible.

“Camp Friendship and the Glenmary Home Missioners are our main connections,” Hayes said. “But we also try to help out with the homeless shelters in the area an any other charities we can think of.”

Eron said this year’s Sapphire Ball was the most successful one the sorority has done.

“This year we were able to raise over $9,000 which is the most we have raised since we started the event,” Eron said. “I’m so proud of the work Abby and the rest of the chapter have done to make it successful.”

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