Football volunteering - after three games

During the fall semester Penn State football is usually in full swing with six to seven home games in the season. Beaver stadium is one of the few, where all the concession stands inside the stadium are staffed by organizations on campus that support non-profit activities, ranging from fraternities raising funds for THON to church groups supporting the local food bank.

AID is in charge of running one such stand where we usually raise around $4000 as commission helping us support one or two additional developmental projects in India. A stand usually consists of a manager, an assistant manager and a host of volunteers. Based on the number of volunteers a group is able to field, stands are assigned in order to maximize profitability. In other words, if a group has 20+ volunteers they would work at a large stand in a profitable location. The more a stand earns the greater the commission awarded to a group.

Below we have a picture taken at our last game - PSU vs San Diego State on the 26th of September.

Football at Penn State is famous in itself - we have people from far away driving in to State College, tailgating, enjoying the game and then driving back. Watching a game is thus on the must-do lists of most visitors and students in the area. The next best thing is volunteering at a concession stand - help raise funds for a charity while watching parts of the game. This is especially true during games against big teams and planned white out games. 

This year I volunteered for the role of manager, taking over from Latha who had managed the stand for the last three years. I have in the past been a volunteer at the stand working in almost all every position. Our first game was against Buffalo on the 19th of September - it was a rainy day and it was cold. This was both good and bad for us - we had fewer volunteers than expected but we sold a lot of hot chocolate. Sales during a game are highly dependent on the weather, the time of the day and excitement in a game - the more exciting the game, the longer people stay at the game, the more our sales. Yes, when either team is well ahead of the other, concession stands see a drastic drop in business.

This game was also my first as a manager - it looked a lot easier when I was in charge of filling glasses of soda or making pretzels. Thanks to Latha and Rahul (alumni home for the game) I learnt less of what I should do and more of what not to do - it was like a crash course in how to fly a plane, I did not feel particularly confident going in to the second game. I should not have worried, my instructors knew what they were doing - the next two games went off smoothly and we made a respectable amount of commission.

Going forward we face a new 'old' challenge - how to continue to maintain a strong volunteer base as the season progresses. Since most of our volunteers are students, so as the semester progresses their work load increases as well - making it harder for people to give up five to six hours on a Saturday. We are trying to publicize the event to a wider audience in an attempt to tap a fresh pool of volunteers. This season we introduced a raffle system where the volunteers for a particular game would be given the chance to win a free to ticket to the next game. I am not sure how much of an impact the raffle has had on the number of volunteers we have received though it has been worth it to see the joy of winning something unexpected after a long session of working at the stand. 

Its been an absolute joy to manage and meet so many new people! At the end of the day its all about raising funds to support work in India while having some fun. Here is to many more games to come!

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