Phi Mu fondues for children

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April 13, 2007

5:01 PM

Senior Chrissy Akison never knew cheese could be so much work. “We need more Swiss,” she said between stirs of the small, cheese-filled fondue pot before her. And she hadn’t even checked in on the Choco-Fountains yet.

p. Akison, the philanthropy chair of Phi Mu sorority, oversaw six fondue pots, two Choco-Fountains (pots of flowing melted chocolate) and about 100 guests at yesterday evening’s Phi Mu fondue dinner.

p. “I really like interactive food,” she said. “I think it’s really fun.” Phi Mu, like all sororities, holds a philanthropy event every semester. This spring was Phi Mu’s first fondue-based event, a change of pace from their usual spring poker game.

p. Initial interest in the event was sparse — only 14 students bought advance tickets, a slight showing given that the sisters of Phi Mu spent $382 in a single trip to WalMart to stock up for the event, mostly on Kraft cheese. “We completely filled up two shopping carts,” said Phi Mu president, junior Samantha Besora, said. “I think the cashier thought it was all for us.”

p. Despite the low sale of advance tickets, over 100 attended through the course of the evening, enough to exhaust Phi Mu’s initial cheese supply. Besora credited the universal appeal of food. “This is something that would appeal to Greeks and non-Greeks,” she said. “Who doesn’t like to eat?”

p. The sisters of Phi Mu spent much of the afternoon preparing for the event. Fondue pots were spread throughout the sorority house on buffet-style tables. Trays were filled with apple slices, carrot sticks, bits of bread and any other food that could conceivably be skewered and dunked in cheese, chocolate or ranch dressing. They were ready.

p. At 5 p.m., just as Phi Mu opened its doors, 30-some members of service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega arrived in a single group, mobbing the fondue pots and vegetable trays. The sorority house remained crowded throughout the evening, despite the sauna-like heat created by a combination of large, bustling crowds and the half-dozen fondue pots. The odor — a combination of chocolate, ranch dressing and Kraft cheese — only encouraged the visitors’ appetites.

p. Phi Mu’s labor — not to mention the inevitable food stains on the sorority’s furniture — was not in vain. Besora said the event raised over $700 for the sorority’s chosen charity, a children’s hospital in Norfolk. Besora also added that the charity is so popular with the sisters of Phi Mu that there is a waiting list the sisters must add their names to if they wish the volunteer at the hospital. According to Besora, she and four others from Phi Mu were planning on spending several hours tonight visiting with the children of the hospital.

p. For Phi Mu, volunteer work is just as much about forming bonds within the sorority as it was about giving back to the local community. “It helps us to come together with a big project,” Besora said. “There is that really tight bond. It’s cool to see that continual reminder of why we’re together.”

p. Akison said she hoped that Phi Mu’s example would inspire others — within and outside the sorority — to get involved in similar projects. “We’re trying to show that service can be fun,” she said. Akison’s example — she was Phi Mu Fondue’s organizer as well as its chief architect.

p. “We plan on continuing this and making it a tradition,” Besora said of the event. The first-ever Phi Mu Fondue, she said, was a success, and she hopes the sorority will raise even more money for the children’s hospital next spring.

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