TRIO’s ‘Great Mug Giveaway’ a hidden Homecoming tradition

Posted on Sep 26, 2018 in Campus News and News

TRIO/SES Great Mug Giveaway at Homecoming 2018

TRIO/SES Great Mug Giveaway at Homecoming 2018In the basement of Strong Hall, the staff and students of TRIO Supportive Educational Services and STEM are hard at work filling the halls with decorations, cookies, music and mugs. Hundreds and hundreds of mugs.

What started 15 years ago as an idea to get TRIO students more involved during Homecoming has grown into a tradition you don’t want to miss.

Rod Oelschlager, then TRIO Academic Coordinator, launched the event in 2003. “The first one was in Room 7 with about 25 mugs that my mom donated,” Oelschlager said. “We put up a few crimson and blue streamers, made hot chocolate in a turkey roaster, and waited to see if anyone was interested. The mugs and hot chocolate were gone in 15 minutes. We knew we were on to something.”

Each year, the Great Mug Giveaway gets bigger and bigger. The number of mugs has multiplied, and a few streamers has given way to hallways turned into art studios. Oelschlager is since retired but remains heavily involved in his creation.

“After a few years in Room 7 and more and more people showing up, we moved into the hallway outside our offices,” Oelschlager said. “Today we will have over 500 mugs to choose from, hundreds of guests, and decorations that we start on in July or early August each year.”

Collecting all the mugs is a year-round process. Rod and the TRIO staff keep an eye out for mugs at thrift stores and garage sales. They also appreciate mug donations.

TRIO is a college opportunity program that provides support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds in their pursuit of a successful college experience.

Even in retirement, Oelschlager gives his time to TRIO and his alma mater. “Like so many alums at KU, we have a real love for our University. Rock Chalk is much more than just a chant to us.”

TRIO/SES Great Mug Giveaway at Homecoming 2018

—Ryan Camenzind

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