By Sarah Smith| firstname.lastname@example.org
Suits, pajamas, lion costumes and barely-there boxers were the variety of attire worn by the bachelors of Phi Alpha Omega’s 25th Annual Bachelor Bid. The dapper men dressed up and some even stripped down to help fundraise money for the St. John’s County chapter of Blessings in a Backpack, an organization that sends at risk children home with food on the weekends.
Phi Alpha Omega is a women’s community service organization at Flagler College that does various events throughout the year to raise money for charities. Each year the ladies take control of the dining hall the night before Valentine’s Day to clear tables and set up a catwalk for eligible men to walk down.
Taylor Koerner, Phi Alpha Omega resident, said that each year the money raised is donated to a different charity.
“Every year the members of Phi Alpha Omega vote on an organization or charity. The ladies of Phi Alpha come to a meeting with charities in mind and then we take a vote,” Koerner said. “One of our members put up Blessings for a vote. It won by a large margin.”
When the music begins, the boys take their cues and begin walking, dancing and even stripping down the runway as audience members place bids using hand made paddles. When an audience member is the highest bidder, they win a date with the bachelor and a gift card donated by a local restaurant while raising money for a child in need.
Blessings in a Backpack helps children ages six through 11 and is still fairly new to St. John’s County. The program, sponsored by Hugs Across the Country, began in local schools in 2010 and the budget to feed one child for the entire school year is $80 according to the national backpack program’s website.
Robin Ossi, the program coordinator for St. Augustine’s Blessings in a Backpack said that 100 percent of Phi Alpha’s donations will go towards purchasing food.
“In St. Johns County, we operate 5 packing groups and serve 6 schools: Crookshank Elementary, The Webster School, Sebastian Middle, Ponte Vedra-Rawlings Elementary, Ocean Palms Elementary, and Liberty Pines Academy,” Ossi said. “Many of the kids in our program have food insecurity, which basically means they aren’t sure whether they’ll eat when school is not in session.”
Koerner said that Phi Alpha Omega will work more with Blessings in a Backpack in the future. “Our members donated food for the organization and we will most likely hold future event with the organization next year. They are an amazing group,” Koerner said.
Through Phi Alpha Omega’s effort and the generosity of students $1,190 was raised for the backpack program. Stripping and bidding aside, Bachelor Bid helped sponsor 15 of the 318 local children in the program this year, a feat that rings true to Phi Alpha Omega’s belief in providing service to their community.