A paperclip is primarily used to hold papers together, but some students in the College of Business think it just may be able to hold a community together.
Sean Lux, an assistant professor in the College of Business, presented his class with the challenge of raising the most money using only a paperclip.
He got the idea from a national assignment that a lot of business schools give their students to encourage exploring creative entrepreneurship and ways to barter to get the most out of a single paperclip.
In the original project, Kyle MacDonald, a Canadian blogger, used a single red paperclip to trade up for different objects, and eventually, after 14 trades, he upgraded to a house.
Summer Decker, a faculty member in the radiology department at the Morsani College of Medicine and student in the College of Business, and her four-member group sat down and discussed what they wanted to accomplish from this project.
“We started discussing within the group what we wanted to do, and we all came to the conclusion that we wanted to help people,” Decker said. “We thought about many people who would not have the resources for food, because donations may have stopped since the government-related agencies shut down [at the time of the national government shutdown].”
With that in mind, the group decided its project would focus on raising proceeds toward the organization Feeding America Tampa Bay.
“We wanted the paperclip to tie together families in the Tampa Bay area,” Kelly Heckinger, a graduate student in the College of Business Administration, said. “Meals are where families come together to tell their stories and talk about their day. This is the cause we wanted to raise money for.”
When the group first started, even the task of raising $600 seemed too great of a challenge. But, when the goal was reached, the group decided to double the initial goal. Eventually, with the funds steadily coming in, the new goal became $2,000, Heckinger said. The new goal was reached within four days.
“The last $10 actually came in right as we were getting ready to present our project,” Decker said.
The group has raised a total of $2,211 to date from 35 donors, collecting donations ranging from $1 to $1,000 on a website created by Decker and her group. There were 94 shares of the story through the website and more than 100 shares on social media websites, including Facebook and Twitter.
The symbolism attached with the paperclip really drew people toward the project, Heckinger said.
“It’s just a small piece of metal. It portrays simplicity and holding things together,” she said. “For us, taking a simple idea of togetherness, and associating it with the paperclip, was something easy to understand. It was a compelling cause and people liked the idea of helping out, especially with the holiday season approaching.”