Oxford Exchange mixes classic, contemporary

Many know the Oxford Exchange as a relaxing place to dine in, have coffee or shop, but what many don’t know is how the Oxford Exchange became what it is today.

IMG_0143

The building, located at 420 West Kennedy Blvd., has gone through numerous changes over the past decades. It was originally built in 1891 as a stable for the Tampa Bay Hotel, now the University of Tampa’s Plant Hall. The Oxford Exchange opened in 2012.

“The owner, Blake Casper, went to college in London and was inspired by the university libraries and the old clubs, all the architecture there. He really thought that sense of community was missing here in his hometown of Tampa,” said Sarah Dyles, the director of public relations.

 

IMG_0145

 

The idea started with a small bookstore and soon took off from there. The owner and his team have done their best at preserving as much of the old material as they could.

“The original brick walls are exposed,” said Dyles. “The original wood floors are actually above us on the ceiling. We found old horse shoes and milk bottles that were left behind from over a century ago.”

The building has an authentic, historic appearance. Its unique architecture and design helps draw people in.

“I would say the most unique thing is the space, all the different facets,” said sous chef Rachel Bennett. “They have the commerce club, the atrium, the conservatory and the retail shop. There are not very many restaurants where you get to have all these different kinds of elements.”

IMG_0142

Coffee and tea are common favorites. Many people enjoy sipping their beverages while lounging on the big, comfortable, leather sofas.

“I really like coming here on Fridays after my yoga classes,” said Daniella Salgueiro, a University of Tampa student. “The environment is very soothing and relaxing. I like to have my coffee here in the morning, and sometimes I’ll have a little treat.”

IMG_0146

In the center of the building is the atrium, a simple gathering space. The Oxford Exchange does not offer Wi-Fi. They prefer people are not staring at their phones all day long, but rather are interacting and collaborating with one another.

IMG_0144

“They’re doing things with people, the way they did back when this building was originated,” said Dyles.

Sigma Pi makes a ‘splash’ at Delta Gamma Event

Sigma Pi participated once again in Delta Gamma’s annual philanthropic Anchor Splash on Sunday, October 26, 2015. Sigma Pi did not place this year, but they seem to be optimistic toward future performances. Sigma Pi brother, Robert Steeg, said, “As long as we get more brothers to participate next year and we keep up the hard work, I believe we will improve and maybe even place.”

Florida Focus News Brief Feb. 10, 2016

In this episode: a student was arrested for loading a gun on a school bus, a shoplifter’s death is ruled a homicide, arrests are made in a string of car burglaries, a stolen car is crashed through a house, and the Medical Center of Trinity is lighting up red.

ff-logo21

Florida Focus Feb. 9, 2016

In this episode: Tampa Bay Crime Stoppers is working to deter gun violence; a Florida law firm is filing an energy drink lawsuit; medical marijuana legalization is resurfacing in the Florida House; Tampa Bay’s tourism industry is growing; the Tampa Bay Rays are releasing ticket promotions.

ff-logo21

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Raises Money Via Delta Sorority

Delta Delta Delta is a sorority at the University of South Florida. They hosted the annual Delta House of Pancakes philanthropy event on Friday, stacking piles of pancakes and raising thousands of dollars for sick children fighting cancer and their families.

Each semester, the USF Greek Life community presents charity events that benefit over 49  organizations. Tri Delta’s national philanthropy is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which provides housing, food and medical treatment for any child diagnosed with cancer, regardless whether their family can afford it.

Most of these children are terminal. Once a year, Tri Delta hosts Delta House of Pancakes, which costs attendees $5 for pre-sale tickets and $7 at the door. The ticket allows them unlimited pancakes and other breakfast items.

Walking into the Tri Delta chapter room, guests are overwhelmed with the aroma of maple syrup, crackling bacon and most importantly, pounds upon pounds of golden pancakes.  Tables and chairs are lined up with eager college students ready to devour something better than dining hall food.

This year, the planning and work paid off, raising over $17,000 for St. Jude’s.  For the chapter president, Mackenzie Reyes, the experience is much more than simply writing a check.

“Every patient we meet, every success story we hear and every time the survival rate improves is possible because of the millions of dollars raised and the awareness generated by Tri Delta members for the past 15 years,” Reyes said.

Reyes, along with 45 other members of Tri Delta, recently visited St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. The sorority sisters were given the opportunity to see exactly where their contributions go and the brave children they affect.

St. Jude’s treats newborns up to 21-year-olds, for brain tumors, leukemia, lymphoma, infectious diseases, blood disorders, sickle cell disease and solid tumors. Treatment for these diseases is rough, expensive and sometimes hard to watch. For the Tri Delta’s, meeting these sick children face to face made all the difference.

“I had a multitude of the most highly trained doctors in America and the strongest children of our future generation coming up to me and thanking me for all that we do as sorority women,” Reyes said. “We help their families through some of the darkest times of their lives.”

Delta House of Pancakes attracted a crowd of over 400 people to the Tri Delta house in USF Greek Village, not including the five Tampa Bay businesses that sponsored the event. The attendance and sponsorship’s played a big role in helping Tri Delta reach a monetary goal and spread awareness.

“Our goal is to raise $60 million in 10 years, after recently beating our $15 million in 5 years goal,” Lexi Kalantzis said, a Tri Delta member of two years.

Tri Delta holds the largest single commitment by a St. Jude partner, having had a short-term housing facility named after their organization. The housing facility, located in Memphis, acts as a residence for cancer-fighting adolescents and their families for up to a week.

It is free of charge because of donations from Tri Delta, so the families can focus on saving their child’s life and lessening the pain that comes with battling such a disease. 

“Who wouldn’t want to play a direct role in raising money for St. Jude’s?” Teagan Fiore said , the Tri Delta philanthropy chair who planned the event.

With the help of the other 48 Greek organizations on campus and the community, Tri Delta members such as Reyes, Kalantzis and Fiore are confident a major impact can be made for participating charities, and countless young lives can be spared.

“We are a part of something much larger than ourselves,” Reyes said.