When it comes to programming, KON’s Kappa Alpha chapter can teach us all a thing or two. Recently I spoke with Karen E. From MS, RD, LD, who is the Chapter Advisor of Kappa Alpha at Northwest Missouri State University, School of Health Science and Wellness about the programming detailed in their Chapter B report. In reading over their programming report to the national office, I was caught by the following line:
“30th year of nut sales completed offering three scholarships for members.”
30 years of nut sales? That’s a lot of nuts. I called Karen to ask her about it. She laughed, “nut sales have been going on since 1990 and were run by then adviser, Beth Goudge. Beth was the adviser for 23 years. She was remarkable. We have an annual fundraising event selling nuts that we source through a small local business about two hours outside of town. The chapter gets a percent of what we sell. This way we’re supporting local businesses and Missouri agriculture. It also lets us focus on health because our program is dietetics. We even sold during COVID. We had stipulations on who you could work with and how you could reach out, but we did it.”
How did they do that? Each year when we elect officers we also elect someone as chair of the nut committee. They join with two other members who were voted into the nut committee. Together the nut committee meets with the KON exec team and advisor to decide on which of the many nuts and snacks we will sell that year and the price we will sell them for. The nut committee creates an order form and descriptions to market the products. They also decide on how many pounds each member is supposed to sell. At a meeting in early October, each member is given their order form in a sheet protector, and a description sheet for each item. Each member is asked to sell at least 20 pounds of nut products to be considered an active member. The due date is decided upon, usually the last day of October. A Nut Committee member and the treasurer or president count all the nut orders and money. The total order is given to the chapter adviser who places the order with the local nut company. The total order is received by mid-November. Then the nut committee members verify we received every item ordered and place each nut order in a paper bag for members to pick up. Each member signs that their order is correct and distributes the orders to their customers before Thanksgiving.
The results speak for themselves. Their largest sale to date was 1,020 pounds of nuts under Beth’s reign. That wasn’t a one-time anomaly though, a couple of semesters ago they had over 900 pounds to distribute. Most years, they raise between $1,500 to $2,000, and of that amount, $900-$1,000 goes into three scholarships for active committee participants that are given out in the fall.
Kappa Alpha’s 2019-2020 Meetings
- September 2019: KON Scavenger Hunt
- October 2019: Pumpkin Painting Contest
- November 2019: Philanthropy event planning
- December 2019: Brunch & Yoga – Omelet station and restorative yoga with Kamryn
- January 2020: No meeting due to winter break
- February 2020: Philanthropy Event – (inspiration cards/basket)
- March 2020: Senior Etiquette Presentation and bullying initiative. (cancelled but planned)
The best part about Kappa Alpha’s programming is that it doesn’t stop there. They have a monthly activity at each of their chapter meetings. At the beginning of the year, each member signs up for a month’s meeting to create appropriate programming. Members usually sign up for more than one month, and often there are 3-4 members to work on each program idea. This way, all the chapter members take turns planning programming for their chapter. They have to select programs that meet one of KON’s ideals of research, leadership, or scholarship. The Vice-President is in charge of programming and makes sure things are on track. Karen reports that they try to use some of what the KON national office has on the website, but also delves into things the members like to make it interesting for them. For example, one of their students teaches yoga at the fitness center. To take advantage of that skill, they made a yoga event for the last month before the winter holidays. This provided an activity that would give back to the members.
One of their lessons learned is to go with the flow, and that not all projects work out. In November, Kappa Alpha was working with another association on their floor to hold a bake sale to raise money to fight food insecurity Backpack Buddies, a local program for food-insecure youth. Unfortunately, the school athletic director said selling cookies at the event would interfere with the Northwest Aramark food contract, and the program didn’t materialize. Despite the disappointment, Karen was positive about the experience. She noted that they had gotten quite far along in planning, “we had already built the marketing and event plan, and had made a quite a bit of progress. We learned a lot from the experience.”
Without their nut sales or bake sale, they were coming up short on a philanthropic activity. Then they learned about a fellow college student Bearcat who had brain surgery. The procedure hadn’t gone as hoped, and the patient was struggling at a local rehabilitation facility. Kappa Alpha used their funds to make a “basket of hope and happiness.” We got her inspirational cards and made a gift basket. She was having trouble reading so we got appropriate books, writing and drawing things, snacks, and socks for her feet. We sent notes too just to say we’re thinking of you and praying for you.
With all of this programming, it’s easy to assume Kappa Alpha is a large chapter. But they have just 11 members, including six initiates.
Karen left us with words of wisdom. “Working with the students is fun. It has taken me until the last couple of years to learn to step back and let them lead and plan, by choosing the activities and working out the monthly programming. It is a great learning opportunity for them, and they enjoy the interaction.” What’s Karen’s favorite kind of nut? Almond. She notes though that the most popular option for the students is dark chocolate-covered coffee beans. The word is that they’re good for finals!