One hundred and eleven years ago, on March 17th, 1905, the Missouri General Assembly authorized the establishment of State Normal School #4, later to be Missouri State University. On March 17th, R.E.A.L. Bears celebrated this amazing accomplishment by throwing a birthday party, as we had done the past three years. This year, R.E.A.L. Bears planned two events: one in Plaster Student Union for the entire campus and a private event in the newly built Davis-Harrington Welcome Center. R.E.A.L. Bears planned the Birthday Party for months, working tirelessly to make sure everything went as well and smoothly as possible.
R.E.A.L. Bears aimed to make this year’s birthday party bigger than the previous years, so we added a community service and philanthropy event to the day. R.E.A.L. Bears members helped design and promote “Be A Bear” t-shirts. The “Be A Bear” t-shirts are being sold for $19.05 and approximately half of the proceeds will be donated to the Emergency Scholarship Fund. The Emergency Scholarship Fund was created after the tornado in the Joplin and is given to students who can no longer continue their education at Missouri State without the scholarship. The t-shirts will be sold from the March 17th, Missouri State’s birthday, to the end of the Homecoming weekend in the fall, never to be sold again in hopes of spearheading a new tradition for Missouri State.
In addition to supporting philanthropy towards the University, R.E.A.L. Bears added a community service component to the event. R.E.A.L. Bears collected birthday party supplies for Wish I May, a non-profit organization. Wish I May supports families in the community who are financially struggling and are unable to throw their child a birthday party. R.E.A.L. Bears decorated large cardboard boxes and placed them in academic buildings and other places on campus. On the boxes, there was a poster describing why the boxes were there, how long they were going to be there, and some examples of what to bring.
The day of the birthday party everyone was in party mode. R.E.A.L. Bear members and volunteers handed out cupcakes all morning to promote the event in the student union. The cupcakes given away in the morning were from The Urban Cup, a local Springfield cupcake shop. They were obviously delicious and students loved them, so they went quickly. The photo booth, card signing table, trivia table, and food from Traditions Council was all set up and ready to go by the start of the birthday party. Students and faculty enjoyed taking pictures at the photo booth and trying to answer Missouri State trivia. The people who stopped by were thoroughly having fun. Some people even came back later to try for a different prize. At the photo booth, took tons of pictures and could print off very cute Instagram pictures if they used the hashtag #BirthdayBears on Instagram.
To promote community engagement, R.E.A.L. Bears worked with The Urban Cup, a cupcake shop in downtown Springfield. The Urban Cup sold cupcakes that were Birthday Party themed with the bear head logo. The bakery sold the cupcakes all week long and donated a portion of the proceeds to the Emergency Scholarship Fund.
Overall, the birthday party was a big hit! Students loved all the activities, food, and celebration; however, just because the celebration is over for 2016, we have begun to plan the celebration for 2017, which R.E.A.L. Bears hope to grow. Next year, we envision the birthday party being even grander!
For more information on the Be a Bear project: http://alumni.missouristate.edu/be-a-bear-tshirt.htm
For more information on Wish I May: http://www.wishimay.org/