The Student Social Work Association will begin building a tradition this month by conducting its third annual Second Chance Dance on Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. in Bennett Gym.
The SSWA is a group of social work majors whose goal is to spread awareness of social justice issues like domestic violence and child welfare. While the group has several small fundraisers throughout the year, the Second Chance Dance is the only big event it organizes to raise money and awareness.
The upcoming charity dance will benefit members of the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma. Most members of the nation are on government assistance, meaning they are provided with food and appliances. However, there is a gap in funding for hygienic products. The admission price to attend the dance is one toiletry item, such as soap, toothpaste or deodorant that is difficult to buy on a small budget. All toiletry items donated at the dance go to those in poverty within the nation as well as victims of domestic violence.
This will be the second Second Chance Dance. It is becoming an annual event at ACU, welcoming students, faculty and staff into Bennett in the name of charity.
The event’s Facebook page says “second chances” is the idea that came to the SSWA when they realized that members of the Chickasaw Nation needed help getting a second chance themselves. To incorporate it in a fun way, they decided to make the dance a spin-off of prom night. Students are encouraged to wear their old clothes or purchase cheesy, old-fashioned prom outfits from thrift shops. Most of the dance’s decorations were purchased from thrift shops as well.
The SSWA will partner with Hill Resources, an Abilene-based agency that serves the developmentally challenged population. The organization will send a few buses full of its patients to enjoy the dance.
More than 130 students attended last year’s dance along with 40 clients of Hill Resources. More than 300 toiletry items were collected to donate to the Chickasaw Nation’s family resource center.
SSWA member Natalie Giroir said this year’s attendance, and hopefully donations, are expected to be higher. Giroir, who is in charge of the music for the event, also said the SSWA hopes to partner with the Swing Cats again this year, an ACU dance group that helped co-sponsor the inaugural event in 2013.
The partnership between SSWA and the Chickasaw Nation continues over spring break in March. Ten students will visit the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma and stay with host families. This trip will allow students a hands-on experience in the field of social work. They will work directly with Chickasaw Nation staff to learn about its culture and the responsibilities of being a social worker.
Giroir said the SSWA would be grateful for any volunteers to help with decorating or other organizational tasks for the dance. She also said they will take monetary donations as well as toiletry items, but the best way to contribute would be to come to the dance.
“It’s unlike any other dance you’ve ever been to,” Giroir said. “Especially with the Hill Resources patients there, who come and have a really good time. You’ll have the chance to interact with some really special people.”