UNA students prepare for Step Sing charity event

Alpha Tau Omega performs “The T(au) Birds” at the 2014 Step Sing Show Saturday, Feb. 8. ATO won first place in the men’s division and was named the overall winner of the event.

Each year, campus organizations compete in Step Sing to raise money for United Way of Northwest Alabama.

Preparation for the event, which will be held Feb. 6 and 7 in Norton Auditorium at 7 p.m., begins months in advance.

A concern for SGA is getting new students interested in Step Sing, said Kelsey Hyche, UPC Service Chair.

“Freshmen really don’t know about Step Sing coming in,” she said. “I know I didn’t go my freshman year because I didn’t really know what it was, and I really missed out.”

Hyche said the goal is to advertise around campus and via social media.

Freshman Evaughna Ammons said she has seen Step Sing posters hanging around campus.

“I want to go because I have an idea of what it’s about, and I want to see the creativity in the groups,”Ammons said. “I feel if it were a little more advertised, more people would come out to see it.”

After organizations sign up to participate, they also begin preparing for Step Sing.

Teams usually begin practicing after Christmas break, Hyche said. They decide when to practice, and they submit the times so the videographer can film their process, which will be previewed at the event.

Zeta Tau Alpha sorority practices 23 hours per week, said Kate Cochran, the organization’s Step Sing captain.

“The girls get to run through the performance more times, which makes them more confident,” she said. “It also makes us closer as a whole. It’s great that we can participate in something that helps so many people.”

Jarriel McGhee, a freshman, said hearing how much the teams practice makes him want to see the show.

“If they’re putting that much into the show, I feel like it will be really good,” he said. “I think it’s definitely worth seeing.”

Teams have to pick a theme and songs, design costumes, create a dance and pick hair and makeup styles for the show, Hyche said.

“I’ve sat in on a few practices with some of the teams, and it’s crazy how dedicated they are and how much work they put in,” she said.

Although the goal for each team is to win the competition, the groups also keep the event’s purpose — selling tickets for United Way — in perspective.

“We always aim to sell out,” she said. “The more people we have means more money for the bucket holders, which also goes out to United Way.”

The money from Step Show, which is held in the fall, and Step Sing, held in the spring, is a big help to United Way, especially this year, said Caitlin Holland, director of Resource Development for United Way of Northwest Alabama.

“We’ve lost some of our biggest campaigns with closings at places like International Paper, and we’re very thankful to have donations from UNA through Step Show and Step Sing,” she said. “We would have to find a lot of other organizations to fill this gap if we didn’t have UNA.”

Holland said the money is distributed between all 20 of its community partners, including The Healing Place, Success by Six and Rape Response.

Alex Hughes, Step Sing captain for Alpha Tau Omega, said his group keeps the goal of helping United Way in mind.

“We try to keep that in view as much as possible,” he said. “I talk to them at the end of each practice and remind them that we’re going out there for United Way. Every year Step Sing raises money, and the better we do, the more they raise.”

In addition to being a fundraiser, Step Sing also garners interest in organizations and the university, Hyche said.

“I think a lot of high school students will come, if not to see a sibling, then to see this part of campus life,” she said. “It’s a recruiting tool not only for those organizations, but also for the University as a whole.”

Editor’s note: Delta Chi, Honors Student Organization, Alpha Delta Pi, Phi Mu, Alpha Gama Delta, Phi Gamma Delta and Kappa Sigma will also perform in Step Sing 2015.