Sigma Delta Tau Opens a New Door for Fundraising and Launches an Online Thrift Store

by, Madalyn Johnson, Web Editor

Sigma Delta Tau has been a sorority chapter at Manhattan College since 2013 and openly makes it their mission to empower and help women through philanthropy. Over the years, they’ve partnered with several organizations such as Prevent Child Abuse America, Women for Women International and Jewish Women International. The sisterhood normally fundraises for these causes by holding bake sales in Kelly, hosting Chipotle fundraisers or raising awareness for these causes on the quad. 

However, this semester has put a halt to clubs’ in-person fundraising events, especially for SDT– an organization dedicated to raising awareness and funds for important causes. 

In response to COVID-19, sisters of SDT have started an online thrift store, hosted on Instagram using the username @sdt_thriftshop, to raise money for Jewish Women International. The college community can shop for donated clothes from popular clothing brands like Urban Outfitters, American Eagle and PINK, all while contributing to the cause. 

Micaela Beatty is a senior and the vice president of philanthropy for SDT. Having been a part of the sorority for four years now, the online switch to fundraising is a new and unique experience. Beatty, along with most of the sisters, hopes the online thrift store will successfully spread awareness and raise money, similar to how in-person sales in the past did. 

“We, in a normal semester, would hold a lot of bake sales and fundraisers,” Beatty said. “Due to COVID it’s been a little tricky, but this is why we’re starting the online store. We think it would be a great way for people to donate a lot of stuff and it would be a great way to fundraise virtually so that there’s not a lot of contact.”

Junior Ciara Coyle, the vice president of finance for SDT, came up with the idea of putting together an online thrift store when attending the Elevate Conference, an annual leadership conference for all of the SDT chapters’ executive board members. On top of keeping in mind that contact had to be limited, Coyle thought that the online store would be an innovative way to help new members participate in a sorority event. 

“Last year we went to an Elevate conference and one thing we wanted to do was new events to get members more involved, so we decided we’re going to do a thrift store event and open it to the whole Manhattan College community,” Coyle said. “We were originally planning on doing it on the quad so we can attract foot traffic. That’s why it’s more vital to get extra exposure for a virtual event like this.”

Isabel Gardner, a junior and the vice president of social life for SDT, explained how excited she was to creatively help JWI through a virtual fundraiser. 

“Ciara brought up the idea to the executive board and I was really excited because I used to sell my clothes on Depop and I worked in thrift stores, on mission trips, pretty much my entire middle school and high school life,” Gardner said. “We want to be able to provide used clothing that everyone can wear and just new styles instead of what you would normally find at thrift stores, which is very old clothing.”

Sigma Delta Tau members came up with the idea for an online thrift store when visiting this year’s Elevate conference. CIARA COYLE / COURTESY

Pickup week for the online thrift store began Oct. 7 and the store will run until Oct. 24, but sorority members want the community to know if shoppers need more time, especially during midterm week, extended dates for pickup week can be arranged. 

With October still being an unsettling and absurd month for the college, the sorority sisters have changed how they get the word out about sorority events, like the online thrift store. Many of the sorority members have taken it upon themselves to individually market the event and to contact people they know.

“I post on my personal Instagram, I post it in almost every group chat that I’m in, I individually text so many people to remind them to bring home clothes and I put it on my Snapchat,” Coyle said. “So, it’s really just individualized.”

With fundraising and interaction among students on campus drastically changing, sorority members have found upholding their duties to be more difficult. Beatty shared how she responded to COVID restrictions being an obstacle to holding philanthropy related events.

“From a philanthropy standpoint, fundraising has been really hard just because we normally have constant bake sales, we do pinwheels on the quad to raise awareness, so social distancing has been hard,” Beatty said. “But as the vice president of philanthropy I took it upon myself to make all the events remote, I mean maybe there are one or two [events] that I give sisters the option to go to in-person, but again I’m reinforcing social distancing and masks have to be worn, it’s always required.” 

Sigma Delta Tau has been a chapter at Manhattan College since 2013. In response to COVID-19, sisters of SDT have started an online thrift store to raise money for Jewish Women International. @ SDT_THRIFTSHOP / COURTESY

Gardner also thinks social distancing is a top priority to prevent sorority sisters and other students from getting sick. She wants to use her role on the sorority executive board to set an example and demonstrate to other members that virtual events are the way to go.

“We’re not really doing anything in-person because parties are just not safe right now and we don’t want to support not social distancing,” Gardner said. “We actually had our first virtual mixer last week and it was very cute, we came on a Zoom call, dressed up in costumes and just played some fun games. But, it’s nice to not have to do anything in-person because I’m personally not comfortable and I don’t want to put any sisters or any sister’s family in jeopardy.” 

Sorority members ensure that along with donating to charity, shoppers are getting unbeatable deals, like receiving another article of clothing for free or buying anything for $5 after donating clothes. Apart from getting clothes for low prices, SDT members want people to participate because shoppers are donating to a significant cause that aims to inspire and help women. Beatty discussed how shoppers’ participation in the virtual event can be impactful for so many women in need. 

“The philanthropy we’re working with this semester, Jewish Women International, the whole reason why they’re a program is to end domestic violence, ensure economic literacy, so I think those are really important issues,” Beatty said. “Yes, you’re going to be donating clothes and yes, you can get a free item, but the bigger picture is that you’ll be helping millions of girls that are suffering from those types of issues.”