Event helps raise funds for projects, scholarships

Terry Yazzie, junior nursing major, helps with the 24th annual Missouri Southern Foundation Phone-a-thon, which started Feb. 5 and will continue until the end of April.

Kristin Wilfing

Terry Yazzie, junior nursing major, helps with the 24th annual Missouri Southern Foundation Phone-a-thon, which started Feb. 5 and will continue until the end of April.

Kicking off its start on the same day as the Super Bowl, the 24th annual Missouri Southern Foundation Phone-a-thon sent phones ringing.

At 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 5, several students started calling alumni, and talking to them about Southern and raising money for the University.

“We start off really slow, but we have 10,000 alums that haven’t given yet,” said Curt Betebenner, director of the Missouri Southern Foundation.

The Phone-a-thon is a project that brings in funds from alums to the benefit of Southern. Some of the funds go to scholarships, while other funds are put into specific accounts, department budgets or project accounts. These accounts range from the upkeep of the football turf or the renovations to Hughes Stadium.

Students man the phones for three hours each Sunday through Thursday. On Sunday, however, there is a four-hour shift option.

The students are trained for one week with clients who are not likely to give any donation.

“We really don’t expect a gift from these people, but it’s good to stay in touch,” Betebenner.

He said the students have a list of 14,000 people to call, but will make it through only 10,000.

The students make $6.50 per hour for the first shift and $7 per hour for each subsequent shift.

“We try to get everybody three shifts per week,” Betebenner said.

For some, the money is the calling. For others, they call for the chance to talk to the alum.

“You can learn a lot from the alums,” said Joey Wagner, junior marketing major. “They can tell you about what direction I can take my major.”

Wagner said though some people will not donate to the Foundation, they appreciate having the University keep up with them and are willing to help the students, even if it’s in advice.

“You kind of learn from the past,” he said.

Betebenner said several students have expressed an interest in the conversations they have with the alum and that despite not getting a donation, it builds a good friendship with the alumni community.

“We may not get a donation from them for the first three or four years,” he said. “But, you may get one from them the next year.”

Jennifer Blackwood, freshman biology major, said she thought the job was worth the money.

“I like it,” she said. “I like people. It’s not any harder than it makes itself out to be.”

Blackwood said she talked with one alumna who had several things in common with her. Blackwood said she enjoyed conversations like the one with alumna and thought the semester of calling would go well.

For others, love has come from the Phone-a-thon.

Jason Reeves, senior English major and his wife, Gina Reeves, senior medical technology major, met three years ago during the Phone-a-thon.

“We were talking because we were two of the oldest people here,” Jason said.

The two started dating and during the second year calling, they were engaged.

During the summer, the two were married and have come back to finish another semester of calling.

“If you’re looking for a campus job, it’s fun,” Jason said.

“It’s really beneficial too,” Gina said. “It’s really nice to get people to talk and some can offer career advice.”

The callers do have their bad times too.

“There are some who are short and rude to you,” Gina said. “They are almost as rude as the ones who hang up.”

The Phone-a-thon will continue through until the end of April.

Betebenner said there are no positions currently open, but there are always some students who quit during the semester because of their workload.

For more information, contact Betebenner at 625-9354.