Flash Mob turns to King of Pop for hunger awareness

A flash mob before the first Marquette men's basketball game of the season was held to draw attention to hunger and poverty in Milwaukee. Photo by Aaron Ledesma/[email protected]

With the holiday season just around the corner, philanthropic organizations are getting creative to garner donations for those in need.

Such was the case last Friday night when the Hunger Task Force — an organization that combats hunger in Wisconsin through food banks — performed a flash mob to the Michael Jackson song, “Beat It.” The dance served to launch the Hunger Task Force’s larger “Text Out Hunger” initiative.

Dominic Mertens-Pellitteri, a senior in the College of Communication, helped organize the flash mob. He is an intern at Jigsaw, a creative advertising company in downtown Milwaukee. The interns at Jigsaw make up an intern-led group called Orangeaid, where they lend creativity to various projects.

Mertens-Pellitteri said the purpose of Friday’s flash mob was to raise awareness, as well as to help the Hunger Task Force get higher involvement from college students.

“As we went along (with planning) we realized that some of the areas they (Hunger Task Force) were struggling with was getting college students as donors and their ‘text-to-donate’ method of donation,” he said. “We kind of took those two things and said, ‘Let’s solve a problem with them.’”

Mertens-Pelliterri said the group wanted to help an organization that would benefit locally from the event. The Hunger Task Force fit that criteria, because it serves the Milwaukee area.

He also said the project provided opportunities to learn more about the extent of hunger issues in Milwaukee.

“Once we found that everyone knew hunger was an issue, it really empowered the entire project,” Mertens-Pelliterri said.

There was a lot of work that went into planning the flash mob, and the organization did not know what to expect.

The organization had to oversee the time and location of the performance. The group chose the 6:30 p.m. time of the flash mob because it did not want it to be too close to 7 p.m. and thus interfere with student and visitor concerns to get into the first Marquette men’s basketball game of the season.

The flash mob was performed to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” and choreographed by Mertens-Pelliterri, who has experience with Marquette’s Hype dance group. He was responsible for assigning roles to the other performers, creating tutorial dance videos and acting as the lead dancer — Michael Jackson.

“Some of my friends had Michael Jackson costume pieces, so I got that hook up and just had some fun with it,” he said.

Those involved in the flash mob thought it was well-received.

Kristin Scalzo, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences and one of the performers, believed it was a great show for both the dancers and spectators.

“I definitely thought it was fun and would do it again,” she said. “To get people to know what your cause is (makes it) worth it.”

Sallie Stacker, a senior in the College of Communication and intern with Jigsaw, appreciated the opportunity to work with the Hunger Task Force.

“It added legitimacy to our project, instead of us just asking for money,” she said. “Fifty percent of Milwaukee kids live in poverty … It would go a long way if we were able to get lots of donations.”

To Donate to Hunger Task Force, text FOOD to 52000.