Beta Sigma Phi invites community to January Jam

The Alpha Alpha Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi — a women’s social, cultural and service organization that gives back to those in need within the community — is hosting a January Jam dance to have fun night while raising funds to help those in need.

“The dance is our main fundraiser. We maybe have a couple small things throughout the year, but that’s where we get the bulk of our money, and we really give money wherever it’s needed,” said Denise Beam, one of the original chapter members.

Alpha Alpha has been hosting a fundraising dance for at least 20 years, first starting out at the Roxana Fire Hall, then moving to the Millville Fire Hall, followed by the VFW.

“Then Alex [Heidenberger] offered Mango’s, which is a great venue, for free. He doesn’t charge us anything.”

The dance will be held at Mango’s on Friday, Jan. 29, from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. Tickets cost $25 per person and may be purchased at the door. Appetizers and desserts will be served, and attendees can enjoy a libation or two at the cash bar.

“We’ve had the Funsters perform for the last few years. They’re great, and they have a pretty big following,” added Beam.

Along with food and music, the dance will feature a silent auction, with the feature item being a week’s stay at a condo in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The “Chinese auction,” or “ticket tango,” features gift certificates to restaurants, “baskets of cheer,” a Vera Bradley duffle bag and a rocking chair from Miller’s Creek.

The dance usually draws anywhere from 150 to 200 people and raises approximately $4,000 annually.

“This is the idea we came up with as a once-a-year fundraising activity to help us give back in some way,” said Nancy Butters, the chapter’s president. “Sometimes we’ve done it as a big contribution to some place, or sometimes, lately, we’ve been donating smaller amounts as our members find things and bring it up to everybody else.”

The funds raised from the dance go back into the community, through word of mouth and by supporting local schools.

“On a regular basis, we donate money to three schools to help needy families at both Thanksgiving and Christmas — Phillip Showell, SMS and LB,” said Beam of the Selbyville elementary and middle schools and the Ocean View-based elementary school.

“A lot of us are teachers or former teachers, so we see a lot of needs for kids. We have Christmas and Thanksgiving families through the schools,” added Butters. “Then we also like to give the counselors at some of the schools emergency gift cards. A lot of times, parents will come to them, and the counselor can give out the cards and say, ‘Get whatever you need to get over the hump.’”

Last year, along with their donations to the schools, the chapter donated funds to the Prettyman family, and a local family that was affected by a house fire.

“We held a dine-and-donate in the fall, which was the first time we’ve ever done something like that, to help fund our Thanksgiving and Christmas donations,” Butters said. “Now, we’re doing this one to help us prepare for the next year and anything else that may come up. Because you never know…”

The chapter began in the mid-1980s, while many of the members were pregnant.

“Our group has been together for about 30 years. Mostly, in the beginning, we were together as a social group and did a lot of kid friendly activities. As we became older and more involved, we saw some needs,” said Butters. “We are basically a social group, but we also want to see these needs, and we wanted to do something to help those.”

Supporting the community where they live is the main objective of the chapter, and the women of Alpha Alpha are striving to do just that.

“I think that’s just the kind of community we live in and the kind of members we have. We went into it to make new friends and be social, back when we were in our 30s, and this part of it has become really important — that we just give back,” said Beam. “We’re just trying to help our community and have some fun while we’re doing it.”

“We’re 24 local women from all walks of life. Some are teachers, small-business owners. Some are retired, some not,” added Butters. “We’re just friends and have been friends for a long time, but this is what brings us together for a purpose and for fun.”