Annual pole-sit raises money for Variety Club

Melissa Berg

Driving down Ash Avenue, passersbys slowed down during Veishea week to gaze at the 30-foot-tall telephone pole with a platform perched at the top in the front lawn of FIJI fraternity.

FIJI – Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, 325 Ash Ave. – partnered with Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, 120 Lynn Ave., to raise money for the Variety Club Childserve Center with the 15th Annual Pole Sit.

Members of the fraternity and sorority took turns sitting on the platform throughout Veishea week. The platform was complete with a television, VCR, couch cushions and a wide selection of movies.

Thomas Hill, vice president for Student Affairs, sat on the platform for the first hour to kick off the event.

“The first day was the coldest and windiest, unfortunately for Dr. Hill,” said Rick Tucker, pole-sit chairman.

The philanthropy is expected to receive about $3,000 from the pole sit, with members of FIJI raising $50 per person and Kappa Kappa Gamma raising $40 per person.

Kati Lukas, sophomore in animal science, said sorority members raised money by asking different fraternities and sororities to donate to the cause. They also depended on the generosity of family members and their house mom, she said. Gift certificates were donated by local restaurants and businesses and raffled off.

Each year, the fraternity tries to find a different organization in the area to help, said Tucker, sophomore in construction engineering. “This year, we decided to help out the kids, especially because the whole building runs on donations only,” he said.

Last year, the pole sit raised funds for the Alzheimer’s Association, and in 1998, proceeds went to the Ames Fire Department.

The safety of the pole sit is ensured by an inspection from the city’s fire inspector. Even with wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour, the tower stayed securely put together, Tucker said.

Although the weather and other circumstances can make sitting 30 feet off the ground on a platform unpleasant, “it’s not too bad to be up here doing it for the kids,” said Jack Wilburn, freshman in engineering.