Support the Pole-Sit now with an online gift through October 26 or make a donation in person at the pole, 12th & Commercial at Kellogg Circle 10 a.m. Friday, October 18 through 10 a.m. Saturday, October 19. To donate online http://soskansas.com/donate/ and select “Yes” to “In Honor Of” you can type PDT Pole-Sit.
The Story of the Phi Delta Theta Homecoming Pole-Sit for SOS, Inc.
In the spring semester of 1986 as planning for Halloween Homecoming later in October of that year was underway, David Eldridge, then director of Emporia State Alumni Relations, challenged the Greek community to conceive and implement new traditions for the annual homecoming festivities. The Kansas Epsilon Chapter of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity settled on conducting a pole-sit to raise money for the common good benefiting a local agency.
The pole-sit concept was derived from the flagpole-sitting craze of the 1920s and 30s. The beginning of the modern pole-sit is attributed to New Yorker Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly who popularized the stunt throughout the eastern half of the United States beginning in Philadelphia in 1924. The ancient antecedent dating c. 420 AD in modern day Syria is attributed to the ascetic Stylites and Saint Simeon the Elder.
The fraternity developed its plan for the enhanced boot-drive and presented it to the homecoming committee. Alumni Relations requisitioned a pole to be fabricated by the University. An in-ground sleeve to support the pole with its metal chair welded to the top was installed at the front of campus, 12th & Commercial at Kellogg Circle.
As homecoming drew near, the brothers considered which agency should be the beneficiary of the 1986 pole-sit philanthropic dollars. Brother Steve Benjamin was a volunteer child advocate for SOS, Inc., then a rather new agency supporting victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The SOS shelter had opened in 1985. Chapter faculty advisor, Trudi Benjamin, served SOS, Inc. as a board member then, as well. The brothers selected SOS, Inc. to receive the funds raised during the 12-hour boot drive.
The Phi Delta Theta Pole-Sit for SOS, Inc. raised approximately $325 in the first year. Kansas Epsilon discovered a second value from the philanthropic initiative. The brothers bonded in positive ways working together for the common good. And, a third value was realized. Our young male undergraduates learned of the pervasive nature of sexual assault and domestic violence becoming better men in their personal growth and development. This was long before higher education was addressing these troubling issues on campuses nationwide. In recent years, Phi Delta Theta headquarters has implemented training on this important issue.
For the 1987 homecoming, Kansas Epsilon selected Kids of Oz, an adaptive toy lending library, to benefit in the second year. For homecoming 1988, SOS, Inc. was again selected and has remained the traditional agency partner for well over 30 years.
The homecoming traditional philanthropy has evolved through the years. What began as a 12-hour initiative grew to 24-hours, then to a 30-hour format. Online donation capability was implemented in the last few years enabling alumni and friends across the U.S. to support the Phi Delts in Emporia, Kansas each homecoming.
In the 30-plus years the Phi Delt Pole-Sit has benefited SOS, Inc., the one-year all-time largest drive earned $4,200. Through the years over $80K has been raised for our SOS partner. The Phi Delta Theta Pole-Sit for SOS, Inc. is the only ongoing “homecoming tradition” challenged by David Eldridge and Alumni Relations beginning back in 1986.
Today, SOS, Inc., based in Emporia, serves a six-county region with the vision of communities where every person can live without fear of interpersonal violence. The SOS mission is to empower and advocate for those affected by sexual and domestic violence, child abuse and neglect.
Story submitted by Phi Delta Theta