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Breen-Phillips Hall hosts 34th annual meal auction

| Friday, March 2, 2018

Continuing its long-held signature event, Breen-Phillips Hall (BP) will host its 34th annual Meal Auction on Friday evening, giving students the chance to bid on meals with their favorite professors and campus celebrities along with sports tickets, signed sports gear and gift baskets. The event is a team effort, with BP residents reaching out to local businesses and personal connections for donations, as well as contacting professors and coaches regarding meals.

“You have to contact a lot of people and there’s a lot of logistics that go into it, but now that it’s the day before the event I’m super excited,” sophomore Maria Herrera, one of the event commissioners, said. “Yes, it’s been kind of a lot of work, but it definitely will pay off because I feel like we prepared really well for it.”

Preparation included choosing a theme, recruiting more than 30 volunteers to contact businesses and creating section gift baskets to include in the raffle. This year’s theme is “Around the World,” which Herrera said was versatile enough for the hall to create interesting and creative baskets.

“We try to do a gift card for each of the baskets so there’s some incentive for the person who wins the raffle to have some freedom in what they do, but then we also try to incorporate the theme with it,” she said. “One of the sections did a book theme, so they got a lot of different books and a map that you can color in a country if you’ve read a book from that country, which is something a little different.”

All proceeds from the auction go to Meals on Wheels South Bend, an organization that delivers meals to homebound residents of St. Joseph County.

“Meals on Wheels really relies on our donations because we give them anywhere from $4 to 7 thousand, so they kind of count on that,” junior Lauren Hebig, one of the event’s commissioners, said. Editor’s note: Hebig is a former graphic designer for The Observer.

Herrera said this community engagement is one of her favorite aspects of the event.

“I love the fact that it kind of brings BP together,” she said. “Rather than just having the BP community bond, it’s also for a greater good. I’m from South Bend, so I love the fact that there’s that engagement between the BP community and Meals on Wheels.”

Sister Mary McNamara, BP’s former rector who passed away Feb. 7, left her mark on a Hall tradition Herrera said Sister McNamara loved. Though the commissioners suggested putting the auction online to raise more money, Hebig said, Sister McNamara wanted the event to remain student-centered.

“She didn’t want it to get to really high numbers for the meals with campus celebrities because she wanted it to be more for the students,” she said. “The students couldn’t afford something that adults could afford.” 

Hebig said the commissioners were concerned about garnering resident participation so soon after Sister McNamara’s unexpected death, but the BP community rallied around the event, which Herrera said it is holding in her honor.

“Sister Mary loved the meal auction, she was super excited for it all the time, so we just wanted to keep it the same way it was to remember her and honor her,” Herrera said. “We’re doing it for Sister.”

This motivation, Hebig said, was a central aspect of the planning process for BP residents.

“That was a really cool thing: everyone in BP was so connected,” she said. “We decided to keep it the day it was because it was what Sister Mary would have wanted.”

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