For the last three weekends, women of Pi Beta Phi and Kappa Kappa Gamma have been getting into their cars, driving twenty minutes north of campus and scaring the pants off people.
This year, the two sororities are trying something new for both of them: a joint philanthropic venture.
“We’re sister sororities,” said senior Pi Beta Phi philanthropy chair Mackenzie Harmon. “Both of our sororities were founded up the road in Monmouth, and both of our nationals’ philanthropy is geared toward literacy. It seemed like a great pairing.”
For each of her four years as the Stand Manager at Country Corner Farm Market and Pumpkin Patch in Alpha, Ill., Alexis Nelson has been a part of the corn maze created and offered up to various organizations. The farm sells jams, jellies, and bonfire-oriented foods at the stands, and then sells tickets for admission. They invite organizations and private parties to come work in the maze, running the stand or scaring people inside, and afterwards the proceeds from the ticket sales are split up among the organizations based on how many hours each works. While a philanthropic use is not required, Kappa Kappa Gamma and Pi Beta Phi are both donating their proceeds to their individual organizations.
“This year we’re trying something new,” said Nelson. “In addition to selling tickets, we handed organizations numbered cards that visitors could bring with them, and for each one turned in, the organization we gave the numbered card to gets an extra dollar for a charity of their choice. It’s been working out pretty well so far. I’d venture a guess to say that we’ve made upwards of $5,000 so far this season from admission sales.”
The sororities worked together at a number of “scenes” in the maze. The maze is comprised of a total of 10 scenes that the groups set up and that the farm owns.
“I worked at the train crossing scene, where we set up sounds and lights to scare people into thinking a train was about to hit them,” said Harmon.
“We’ve got people with chainsaws making noise, all kinds of creepy lights, a fog tunnel, a cemetery scene…we’ve got great variety,” said Nelson. “In the past, volunteers have made as much as $200 to $300 dollars per person, but it all depends on how many people we have working for us.”
Mackenzie Harmon was originally introduced to the idea by sophomore Chloe Bohm, the philanthropy chair for Kappa Kappa Gamma.
“Carolyn Hill approached me with the idea for philanthropy after thinking of using it for a sisterhood bonding event,” said Bohm. “We decided to put the money toward Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), our national charity, which encourages reading and writing during the very important first five to seven years.”
Both sororities are looking forward to working together again.
“I’d love to do another event,” said Harmon. “It was a lot of fun. We’ve been looking for a way to make a sizable contribution to our national, and this seemed like a great idea. Our sorority sponsors the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tenn., which offers classes in art, music, and dance for all ages. We’ve been thinking about doing a joint book drive with Kappa later on this year and definitely looking at the possibility of doing the haunted maze again next year.”
“We’d like to look into getting Delta involved, too,” said Nelson. “It’d be nice to have all three sororities joining together in a common philanthropic event. The haunted maze is really effective for our community, too. A lot of non-Greeks don’t really understand what it is that we do, and events like that that bring in a lot of non-Greeks helps to show a little bit of what we’re about.”
For those students wanting to catch the last night of fright this Friday, the maze will be open from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Located on Hwy-150, North of Alpha, a large yellow sign is standing outside the drive. Those who get lost in the dark countryside can call 309-629-2359 for directions.