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On Being Rejected From A THON Committee: It’s Not The End Of The World

In case you somehow missed it, THON Committees were announced yesterday. It seemed like everywhere you looked, someone was posting about their newfound committee status. Whether it was your former roommate’s “OMG can’t wait to get started with the R&R fam this year” Facebook status or the guy from your English 15 class’ “thankful for the OPPortunity to serve with Big Blue this year! #FTK” tweet, people took to every social media platform possible to announce their role with the world’s largest student-run philanthropy. I mean, did you see the campus story? It seemed like there was a solid minute of DRCMs receiving their positions!

But some volunteers received far more disappointing news on Sunday. For those committee-hopefuls, their journey with THON came to a screeching halt when they picked up the phone yesterday afternoon. Though it may seem like everyone gets a spot on a THON committee, that is far from the true. Every year, THON has to make difficult decisions regarding its volunteers. And every year, people who want to dedicate their time to the charity are turned away.

Now you’re probably thinking that I’m being a little over dramatic. After all, the majority of committee applicants are offered a position of one of the sixteen committees. With committees as large as R&R and OPP, it seems impossible for someone who is incredibly passionate about THON to be turned down for a committee, right? Wrong.

I can personally attest to that fact. Because, believe it or not, I was rejected from a THON committee.

It was my sophomore year here at Penn State, and I came back to State College with one thing in mind: I wanted to be on a THON committee. Like many freshmen, I didn’t really understand the magic those 46 hours hold until I attended my very first THON in 2013. As I stood in the BJC bawling my eyes out during Family Hour, I knew I had to help make THON 2014 possible.

I submitted my application to be a DAR (donor/alumni relations) committee member as soon as I possibly could. I waited patiently for the email notifying me of my interview time. I picked out the perfect business casual outfit and showed up 20 minutes before my assigned slot. I nervously stuttered out my answers to basic questions like “Which one of the four diamonds do you believe in most?” and “Why do you THON?” I hurried out of my interview, and then started playing the waiting game.

The final fate of my THON committee career came on a Sunday afternoon. It was parents weekend, and I was just finishing up brunch with my cousin and aunt. As we stood up from the table, my phone began to buzz. An unfamiliar number with a PA area code? It had to be THON! I rushed out of the restaurant to take the call, and hopefully hear the good news I so desperately craved.

Except the news wasn’t good. As the captain on the other end of the line delivered the rehearsed schpiel about how much THON valued each individual application no matter what, I could feel my heart sinking. I tuned the captain out, and instead began to focus on the single question that ran through my mind, over and over again: How could I help make a difference for THON if I couldn’t even get onto a committee?

Well, two years later, I’m living proof that being rejected from a THON committee is not the end of the world. On the contrary, there are literally thousands of other ways to help make the best 46 hours of the year happen.

Almost every organization, club sports team, and group on campus is involved in some sort of THON effort. These general organizations are incredible ways to get involved in THON, because they offer a personal connection to the philanthropic cause. A THON committee doesn’t have a THON child and family, but a general organization does. You’re able to actually see the difference THON makes in the life of a child and their family, up close and personal.

If you really want to submerse yourself in the THON culture, there are a handful of special interest organizations you can join. These groups, like Ohana and Springfield, are 100 percent dedicated to THON, 100 percent of the time. With a special interest org, you can still have a community of people who are just as hyped about THON as you are. Plus, there’s the added bonus of not having to work shifts during THON when you’re with one of these organizations.

But if neither of these options is really ideal for you, you can support THON from afar. You can still contribute to the final total, attend benefit concerts, and eat spaghetti dinners without being attached to a specific THON effort.

Because at the end of the day, everything Penn State does for THON goes to the same great cause. Every hour spent canning, every cent raised in a donation box, every tedious committee meeting, every cupcake sold at a bake sale carries a greater purpose. It isn’t about which committee you did or didn’t get, it’s about the kids.  

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About the Author

Anna Foley

Anna is a senior majoring in Communication Arts & Sciences and Spanish with a minor in Theatre. Yes, she went to Spain. Follow her half-funny thoughts @exfoleyator and send her chain emails at [email protected]

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