Where fundraising and competition collide

Patricia Oprea

Rotaract Club hosts the second annual Hunger Games to raise money for Shelterbox.

Although there were no poisonous berries, food shortages or deaths of valiant tributes, Rotaract Club sponsored the University of New Haven’s second annual Hunger Games from March 23 to March 26.

Being a community-service based organization, Rotaract started this event last year to continue raising awareness of problems worldwide. All money raised is donated to Shelterbox, a charity founded in 2000 that raises funds for disaster relief. Shelterbox delivers boxes to families in need; the boxes include a tent and supplies particular to the disaster. Shelterbox is currently helping people in the Philippines who were hit by the Typhoon Haiyan, the largest storm ever recorded. Each box costs 1,000 dollars, and last year UNH raised 4,000 dollars; enough to buy boxes for four families!

Just like in the movie The Hunger Games, students participate as tributes from a district, or organization, on campus. Fourteen total contestants representing SCOPE, the Beckerman Rec Center, SAE Kappa Class, SMILE, Legal Society, ASME, the UNHstable, Photography Club, Phi Sigma Sigma, Green Team, Communications Club, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Choices Club, and Alpha Lambda Delta participated in the opening challenge.

The first round was Monday, and all tributes awaited their task in the Quad, energized as time went on with music provided by WNHU. Each tribute stood near the BSAC on the grass and had a square space in front of them. The challenge was to run to the opposite side of the Quad, near Sheffield, and pick up tiles with letters on them, to try and make the longest word possible in 15 minutes. The stipulation was that only one letter could be picked up at a time, so there was a great deal of running across the Quad. Most letters were green, but the blue ones were worth double points, which had tributes flipping over letter after letter seeking that color. During the fifteen minutes, trading among districts for letters occurred, as did alliances to help one another create the longest word. Afterwards, the bottom six with the lowest scores each cracked open a coconut to find the name of a natural disaster inside. The first four to find letters and spell their word out moved on to the next day. After the first day, SCOPE and Alpha Lambda Delta were eliminated.

Tuesday’s challenge had two parts for the remaining 12 individuals. First, participants had to pop a balloon by throwing darts at one balloon at a time until each person had popped a total of four. A note with an item was inside each balloon. Gold balloons represented easy items, blue balloons were intermediate, and red ones were difficult.

Tributes then had 15 minutes to scavenge for all their items; ranging from a poncho to matches to a Pokémon card. At the end of 15 minutes, all tributes had returned with four items, except for Legal Society’s tribute, Brianna Stefano. She had to do the redemption challenge and eat six saltine crackers in one minute. However, Stefano was a few crackers short leaving eleven remaining tributes.

Wednesday’s event was cancelled due to potential flurries and 30mph wind speeds, so tributes had a free day to prep for Thursday and fundraise.

Thursday began with a mini challenge to eliminate three people and get down to the bottom eight. This is where fundraising and organization support really mattered, because the five people who raised the most money were exempt from the first challenge. Tributes from the Rec Center, SAE, Communication Club, Green Team, and PhiSig were safe; however, the six tributes with fewer funds raised had to put together cardboard pieces with letters to make a phrase, and in order to do so, got clues every five minutes. The ending phrase was “One Step Closer to the Finale.” Times ranged from 13 minutes to 16 minutes, and the three organizations that moved on were UNHStable, ASME, and Choices Club.

The next round was Shelterbox trivia for the eight remaining participants. The four who studied up on the charity and got the highest scores were Alyssa Mackinnon from Green Team, David Puglisi from Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Marija Savaiko from the Rec Center, and Melissa Lundin representing Phi Sigma Sigma.

The finale event had multiple parts. First, tributes had to pour water in a pipe to make a Ping-Pong ball at the bottom rise to the surface. Each ball had a number on it (all tributes had the same number) and there were four in total. This is where organization support really mattered because tributes all started with tiny cups, and if people donated five dollars, tributes could receive a red solo cup; much like how tributes in the movie get sent gifts from sponsors to stay alive.


Lundin and Puglisi had great crowd support from their organizations, and received cups immediately. Green Team and the Rec Center received cups afterwards too. As soon as four balls were found, tributes raced to the tent (one from Shelterbox) across the quad to try combinations of their numbers on a lock.

Mackinnon was the last tribute to make it to the tent, but a few moments later, she was the first to discover the combination. As the winner, Mackinnon received a 51-inch flat screen TV, and a pizza party for the UNH Green Team. “I am very thankful to Rotaract for putting so much effort into developing a creative challenging event for a great cause. I am ecstatic to have had such an amazing opportunity to participate and eventually win the games, thanks to the support from my hunger games allies and green team!” said Mackinnon.

Savaiko was the top fundraiser two years in a row and raised 878 dollars for Shelterbox. “I think this year it was more relaxed for competition on fundraising but overall the challenges were, for the majority, all different. In the end we all accomplished raising money for Shelterbox and that’s the most important thing, “ said Savaiko. Savaiko won a cake party for her organization and an iPad Air for herself.

“In comparison to last year, this year did not have as much team element or survival instinct and instead focused more on the organization the money raised was going to. And the weather was an unfortunate element of the week, but I think the Rotaract Club did a great job of handling the situation,” said junior Joe Brown, the communication club tribute.

All tributes were enthused by the Hunger Games event. “The events were challenging and allowed people to win even if they weren’t the strongest. It felt like competing on a reality show. Rotaract did a great job and I think this event will l continue to evolve each year,” said Dan Brophy, a tribute from WNHU.

Once again, Rotaract captured the attention of many clubs and students with an interactive fundraising event. Paul Raffile, the Community Service Chair of Rotaract, was in charge of the event both years, and remarked on how important Shelterbox is to their organization. Participants raised 2,800 dollars for Shelterbox this year, and are looking forward to the Hunger Games next year, hoping the odds may be “ever in their favor.”

 (Images were of “Tributes” competing in the second annual UNH Hunger Games provided by Chariot Yearbook and Jenna Rabadi)