A new take on a regular fundraiser: Beta Sorority to raise funds through ethnic food fair

PUNXSUTAWNEY — After a long-standing tradition of holding its main fundraiser during Old Home Week, the Punxsutawney Beta Sorority is taking a new angle to its fundraiser — traditionally known as the salad luncheon — this year.

The Punxsutawney Beta Sorority has been in existence for more than 50 years. A spin off of the former YMCA Ladies Auxiliary, it is a non-profit, local organization raising funds and returning the money raised to other local organizations, such as the Community swimming pool, the library, food banks and adults and children in their own personal needs in the Punxsutawney Area. All funds raised by the Betas stay in the community of Punxsutawney.

"It has been a tradition to have our annual fund raiser, the salad luncheon, during Old Home Week, which is now known as the Groundhog Festival," member Marlene Shaffer said. "However, some saw our fundraiser as a distraction instead of an added attraction. For that reason, our fund raiser has been moved to The Spirit's Appreciation Day."

This year, The Spirit's Appreciation Day will take place Sept. 29, and the luncheon will be held on the same day — although it will be held at the Jefferson Street Social Center and not at SS.C.D., where Appreciation Day will be held.

The center is near the community center, and the hours will be from noon to 6 p.m. this year.

And with the new date, Shaffer said an opportunity to rethink how the event ran arose.

"Since we had to change the long-established date, we decided to change our long-established menu and format a bit too," she said. "This year, we are having an international food fair featuring ethnic foods — German, Italian, Slovak and Mexican."

This year's menu will include sauerkraut, German potato salad, spaghetti and meatballs, stuffed cabbage and pierogies — just to name a few options — along with homemade baked goods.

"This is not the traditional dinner, but instead, it is a fair," Shaffer said. "Each item may be purchased for a small fee, and you have the option of eating in or taking it out. So, with these changes, we wish all our loyal patrons over the years will continue to support our sorority in the new venture."

In addition to the change in food style, the Sorority also added the idea of craft vendors at its event.

"What we're going to do is rent tables at the social hall for crafts and other sorts of vendors," Shaffer said. "For the most part, we expect people to go for the takeout option. There will be tables for folks to sit if they decide to stay, but in addition, we'll have vendors with their crafts set up."

Anyone interested in setting up a table can contact the Betas. There will be a $10 fee for non-electric tables and a $15 fee for ones with electricity.

One thing Shaffer wanted to point out is that the event is meant to add to what The Spirit is doing.

"It's all about being one community," Shaffer said. "We're intentionally running our event at some different hours from Appreciation Day because we don't want to take away from what The Spirit is doing. It'll be something to complement their event, and we hope it can bring a few more people in to both of our events."