Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette , Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix . See the about page to read more about the DG.
For the fourth time in five years, black-clad bearers of Valentineâ€™s Day cards swarmed across Swarthmore, sneaking into classes and dorms to deliver their messages of love and affection with a dash of stealth and aggression. NinjaGrams, headed for the first time by Phil Chodrow â€™11, had begun again.
It was not going to be an ordinary Valentineâ€™s Day weekend for Chodrow, who assumed control over more than 300 cards and two dozen or so ninjas charged with sneaking up and delivering them. Chodrow admits he was a little bit in over his head.
â€œHaving never been involved with this before,â€ he said. â€œIt was definitely an eye-opener to realize exactly how much logistical and technical work goes in to making the campaign successful. I ended up devoting a lot of time that I didn't necessarily have to tabling and planning.â€
Typically, as part of the NinjaGrams project, students would sign up to buy Valentineâ€™s Day cards for their sweethearts, who would receive them at any time, any place, courtesy of a very stealthy ninja. To sweeten the deal to potential card-buyers, Chodrow and his team made truffles to accompany the cards, selling for $4 apiece, with all the money going to support the Haiti Community Support charity.
Naturally, the success or failure of any NinjaGram mission depends not on mere strategy, but on the man or woman in black. G. Patrick â€™10, a veteran ninja, explained his take on the job of the messenger. â€œBeing a ninja is not about following in any other ninjaâ€™s footsteps. Being a ninja is about embracing the true badassery of what you do,
Chodrow, seen here distributing cards to his helpers, said he was very happy with the results of his ninjas. â€œThis year was absolutely a success for NinjaGrams,â€ he said. â€œWe had tight organization, enthusiastic volunteers, great publicity, and an awesome delivery day. NinjaGram raised over $1,000, which is going straight to Haiti Community Support. We're very proud of this accomplishment, and we're hoping to send an even larger sum to a worthy cause next year.â€
After sliding out of a Taiko class, mortally wounded in the course of a particularly high-stakes NinjaGram delivery, Chodrow popped up, gave the thumbs-up and said, â€œThat was a good one.â€ Then he stole off, flanked by two stealthy subordinates, on to another mission.