Thanks to an ambitious and imaginative Lycoming College student, Lycoming County United Way benefitted from a unique fundraiser held in Lamade Gymnasium at Lycoming College last Tuesday - a first of its kind "Human Foosball Knockout Tournament."
"Bringing the popular arcade game to life, the event included participants who played a series of life-size foosball games. Teammates were connected by PVC pipe and had to move together to keep the ball in play," explained Sonia Soowambar, event coordinator and an international business student.
Asked how the event came about, Soowambar explained she has a community service class this semester and has been volunteering with United Way.
"The staff at United Way invited me to develop my own fundraiser for Lycoming College," Soowambar said. "We started out with just the college, and then we expanded to invite teams and spectators from the whole community."
She planned the event from beginning to end. She recruited teams from campus such as Beta Phi Gamma-lacrosse team, German Club, band-choir-Student Senate; as well as from the community - Larson Design Group, The Defeeters - Friends of United Way, The Pub, Williamsport Bureau of Fire and YMCA.
Soowambar sold raffle tickets on campus and obtained raffle prizes from Cinema Center, Community Arts Center, The Bullfrog Brewery, The Cell Block, Franco's Lounge, Otto's Bookstore, Sports Spree and The Pub. She also arranged event logistics like setting up the gym, coordinating the rules, promoting the event via placing banners and fliers on campus and a planning a campus e-mail to inform students about the event. And thanks to her efforts, food and beverages were provided by Sodexho, the Sun-Gazette donated a print ad and Act 1 Specialties donated medals for the foosball champions.
"I wanted to do something different and wanted people to have a fun way to support the community," Soowambar said. "Everyone had a good time and we raised $600 for United Way!"
As with traditional foosball, the main objective was to pass the ball through the opponents 5-bar to offensive 4-bar. Players used piping as rods and moved in sync from left to right to pass the ball to each other. Teams were made up of 13 members and players were asked to donate $5 each in support of the United Way annual campaign.
"We're really thrilled with Sonia's initiative. This event was a fun, exciting and new way to raise funds and awareness about what United Way does for the residents of Lycoming County," said Kate Pacacha, director of resource development and communications for LCUW. "It is wonderful to see these students excited about community service and helping their neighbors right here in Lycoming County. Everyone who played was smiling the whole evening."
United Way was an easy choice for Soowambar.
"My past and present experience of volunteering within the non-profit sector has allowed me to appreciate how rewarding such work can be. Having a part to play in what could potentially improve society is an enriching thing," she said. "I chose to opt for a community service class at Lycoming College as it is something I consistently do back home. The United Way seemed ideal as it has a wide reach over both the agencies it serves and causes it supports; working with the United Way benefits not only one of these, but all."
Originally from the United Kingdom and fluent in both English and French, Soowambar was excited to spend a year abroad at Lycoming College. Upon her return to London, she will complete the final year of her degree and plans to seek employment within the non-profit sector.
"It is exciting and encouraging to see Sonia's genuine commitment to serving her community, wherever she lives. Lycoming County is fortunate to have her for a year," Pacacha added.
For more information on Lycoming County United Way or to support the campaign, call 570-323-9448 or visit the office at 1225 Clayton Ave.