The art of flamingo flocking.

For charity, of course!

The Nonprofit Leadership Student Association (NLSA) began flocking front yards with flamingos on Sept. 19. The fifth annual Flamingo Flocking Fundraiser is raising money to go toward the Global Friends Coalition, an organization that helps New Americans integrate into the Grand Forks community. This organization was chosen by the students.

The art of flamingo flocking consists of at least two students going out at night and setting up a flock of at least ten flamingos in someone’s yard. The ‘victims’ are chosen by people in the community who get to choose which house the flamingos go to next for only $15 a night. The students then head out around 8:30 p.m. This way, they aren’t running into people getting home before dinner time nor are they raising suspicion by sneaking around at midnight.

The flamingos remain in the chosen person’s yard for 24 hours, or until the ‘victim’ calls to have them removed, whichever comes first. Along with the flamingos is a sign with all of the information about why the flamingos are there, what the cause is for, and how to retaliate, although there isn’t specific information on who sent them there. That leaves the ‘victim’ guessing, which is half the fun.

The idea for this fundraiser came from a student of Helgeson’s. Laura Roach, now a UND alumnus, thought of flamingo flocking because it happened in her small hometown of Castleton, where it was very successful. Roach thought it would be a better and more fun way of raising money rather than a bake sale.

Heather Helgeson, the head of the fundraiser and Director of the Nonprofit Leadership Program, has gone out on a couple of the trips herself.

“I don’t really ask the students to do anything that I’m not willing to do,” she said. “I love it! I think it’s a lot of fun!”

The flocking only happens Monday through Thursday. According to Helgeson, people seem to be more apt to steal the flamingos on weekend days, although she isn’t sure why.

With a fundraiser like this, questions come up about whether or not they’ll get in trouble for going in people’s yards without direct permission.

“We’ve never had the cops called.” Helgeson said, surprised. “Most often, people are really positive about it.” In the five years this has been going on, only one person has ever complained. Thinking it was an act of vandalism, she took up all of the flamingos and placed them in front of the Union, where they were never seen again.

The students had four or more flocks going each night last year, but their flamingo numbers downsized this year.

Currently, they have enough for two flocks, which could get tricky when the orders start to pick up. The fund raiser only runs until Oct. 6, although last year, they did extend the dates due to all of the orders that came in. $1,000 was raised for breast cancer awareness month, and the NLSA is hoping to match that this year.

If you, or someone you know, is able to donate flamingos to this cause or would like to have flamingos flock someone’s yard, please email Heather Helgeson at [email protected].

Rachel cox is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]