Toad’s, YHHAP fight homelessness

The fight for social justice and mid-week partying came together Wednesday evening at the first-ever Toad’s Place hosted benefit to fight homelessness.

The event, which was held as part of the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project’s Shelter Now Week, raised approximately $100 for the organization, a third of the evening’s admission’s revenue, Toad’s Manager Brian Phelps said. He added that it was a relatively light night for Toad’s because of a fraternity’s competing Halloween party at Elevate Lounge on Crown Street.

Students donate money outside Toad’s Place on York Street Wednesday.
Daniel Carvalho
Students donate money outside Toad’s Place on York Street Wednesday.

“We figured we’d reach a different crowd,” Gabe Zucker ’12, one of Shelter Now Week’s co-directors, said of the decision to hold an event at Toad’s. After Wednesday night’s event, he said YHHAP had collected approximately $150 by soliciting Toad’s patrons and circulating collection jars around the club.

The YHHAP Toad’s night fell in the middle of the group’s Shelter Now Week, which began with a “Sleep Out on Old Campus” on Oct. 24 and will end Friday with the YHHAP Fast, a day on which Yale students can donate a day of meal swipes to help less fortunate members of the New Haven community. The YHHAP’s Fast has happened once every semester since 1974, and raised $13,500 last fall semester.

Zucker said YHHAP had initially discussed a number of ideas for what event to host in the middle of the week. Toad’s emerged as a possible venue for a mid-week event while the group was brainstorming “creative ways to make caring for homelessness more accessible to students,” Zach Sokoloff ’11, who arranged the agreement between YHHAP and Toad’s, said.

On a typical Wednesday night, between 250 and 300 people go to Toad’s, Phelps said, approximately a third of which are must pay the $3 admission fee because they are under 21 years of age.

Sokoloff said that the event’s visibility was important because students who go to school in an urban environment like Yale and encounter homelessness everyday sometimes view the social problem as routine and impersonal. YHHAP is trying to make caring for the homeless a more accessible concern for Yale students, he said.

To that end, the group is also hosting a party and fundraising event with the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon this Friday night. The party, called “Fright Night,” will occur after Foodstock, YHHAP’s meal celebrating the end of the YHHAP fast, and will be held at the SAE house on Elm Street.

The events at Toad’s and SAE are part of YHHAP’s broader push to create a relationship between organizations fighting for social justice causes and businesses not ordinarily associated with such movements, Sokoloff said.

“I tried to make it clear to Toad’s that this was a win-win situation — not only because YHHAP is a great cause, but that we would do all the legwork and try to get as high attendance as possible,” Sokolofff said.

YHHAP and Phelps agreed that for every person under the age of 21 who pays the weeknight admission fee, $1 will be donated to YHHAP.

“[YHHAP] was persistent in trying to contact me and seemed very enthusiastic,” Phelps said. “Over the years I try to work with any student group who calls me as best I can.”

Each year Toad’s hosts approximately six to eight events for charitable organizations, Phelps said, half of which have traditionally been held by student groups. In addition, organizations can rent out both Toad’s dance floor and its Lily’s Pad, the cost of which depends on what day of the week the event is, the expected number of attendees and the quality and amount of alcohol served, Phelps said.

A weeknight event without an open bar, for example, costs groups $6.75 per person for up to 40 people, while an open bar with top-shelf liquor costs approximately $9.75 a head. The dance hall typically offers organizations discounts for groups larger than 40 people, Phelps said, and events held on Friday or Saturday night are more expensive than those held during the week.

Unlike Toad’s, which is donating a fraction of its cover charge to YHHAP, SAE is letting the group use its house and its name for the event, though YHHAP will provide all of the beverages and collect all of the revenue from the $3 entrance fee. Yalies can also purchase a $5 ticket for both Foodstock and Fright Night.

Those planning to attend the event can either purchase tickets in residential college dining halls or at the door.

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