Greek organizations lend ‘assisting hand’ to those in need

College Panhellenic Council, Interfraternity Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council, National Interfraternity Music Council – no matter the organization, all have one common aspect: philanthropy.

Greek sororities and fraternities each have their own unique philanthropy efforts from education initiatives to raising awareness for their respective programs. Some organizations sell goods at bake sales or collect items for those in need.

Pi Kappa Phi held The Puppy Experience March 14; the event raises awareness for Natchitoches Hope for Paws, a non-profit dog rescue, and Pi Kappa Phi’s national philanthropy, The Ability Experience, aimed at “enhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities.”

The fraternity also participates in two cycling events, Journey of Hope and Gear up Florida, and volunteers at Ability Camps, which makes areas accessible to those with disabilities. Members Thomas Marlbrough and Tucker Ellis are currently in Guatemala helping with an Ability Camp there.

Phi Mu recently held two bake sales, raising $233 to benefit the Phi Mu Foundation, which in turn helps the chapter with their philanthropy and educational programs, as well as scholarships and leadership opportunities.

They will also contribute over $2000 raised from their annual M3 Campaign where each sister in the chapter donates $18.52. The amount was inspired by the founding of the fraternity in 1852.

“It is really cool to think that my donation could be helping a sister across the country,” Public Relations Chairman Maria Rome said.

Kappa Alpha Psi partnered with Phi Mu earlier this semester with a “Don’t Drink and Drive” pledge and frequently volunteers around campus. Their fraternity puts a special emphasis on helping the local community, visiting the Boys & Girls Club and local schools.

“We don’t limit ourselves to just [our national philanthropy],” said Darius Brock, community service chairman.

Likewise, Theta Chi Vice President Dakota Brogdon said their chapter helps anywhere they can.

“No matter what your philanthropy is, as long as you get involved with it, it’s very humbling,” he said. “You get a sense of accomplishment, [and] you feel good knowing you helped someone. That’s our motto: an assisting hand.”

Others take their national programs and incorporate the initiatives into service efforts in the Natchitoches community.

Alpha Kappa Alpha, Phi Beta Sigma and Zeta Phi Beta each have educational programs, including ASCEND and Adopt-A-School.

As part of ASCEND – which stands for Achievement, Self-Awareness, Communication, Engagement, Networking and Developmental Skills – Alpha Kappa Alpha members mentor high school girls. They also collect backpacks for the One Million Backpacks campaign; last year, they collected the most backpacks in the South Central region.

Phi Beta Sigma Second Vice President and Director of Education Justin Guillory said his chapter participates in Reading Days at Cloutierville Elementary and Junior High School, called “Sigma Storytime.”

They recently helped play math games at Natchitoches Junior High’s Leap Night and have helped with Black History programs and school supplies drives.

Zeta Phi Beta held Finer Womanhood Week March 11-17, promoting the values of their sorority while also raising money for March of Dimes. Part of the week included the first ever Mr. Blue and White Scholarship Pageant where “their biggest talent is their GPAs.” Jamien Sampson, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha and sophomore at the Louisiana Scholars’ College, won the pageant.

Shanevia Houston, president of Zeta Phi Beta, said philanthropy and service is crucial because people are usually focused on themselves and not others.

“Philanthropy is important because it gives individuals the opportunity to improve human wellbeing and promote positive changes in the community,” she said. “We are able to … provide services that some people don’t have access to and generally encourage unity in society.”

Each fraternity or sorority also has signature events throughout the year aimed at raising larger sums of money for their respective philanthropies and foundations.

Dancing with the Sigmas – modeled after reality show “Dancing with the Stars” – is one of Sigma Sigma Sigma’s most popular events, pairing a dancer from the sorority with a prominent Natchitoches community member.

Beka Aultman, chairwoman and four-time dancer for Dancing with the Sigmas, emphasized the hard work that goes into planning the event that benefits their philanthropies, Sigma Serves Children and March of Dimes.

“It takes all [112] of us [in the chapter] to put it on,” she said. “Not only is it hard work to make an event happen, it’s hard work to make an event happen for the best cause possible.”

Though organizing an event of such magnitude can be challenging, Aultman said it is worth every second.

“It’s really nice to know that whenever we’re … raising the money, it’s not just going off to somewhere,” she said. “It’s going [to local kids] and helping kids here.”

Alpha Omicron Pi organizes their annual spring event benefiting the Arthritis Foundation, Strike Out Arthritis. This is the second year the event has been a kickball tournament.

Philanthropy Chair Hannah Boquet highlighted the personal connections between some of the sisters and their national philanthropy, showing not only that most people know someone with arthritis, but they may be closer than you think.

AOII sister Brittney Jacob shared that she was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a type of arthritis, in high school.

“When I went through recruitment [at NSU], AOII’s philanthropy was one of the main reasons I joined,” she said. “I am proud to be part of an organization that brings awareness to this disorder.”

Those personal connections between people also inspired freshman Spencer Naber, philanthropy chairman for Sigma Nu. He helped develop the idea for the Nu Image Art Gala after his uncle, an artist, passed away last year.

“This is a huge tribute to him,” he said. “It’s mainly about St. Jude’s. But for me, personally, I’m trying to do it for him.”

All proceeds from the gala tickets and art auction, which will be held April 13, will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

One of Kappa Sigma‘s big annual events includes their spring Crawfish Boil, which benefits the Military Heroes Campaign. The campaign’s purpose is to serve United States veterans and help with their lives after serving in the military.

Kappa Sigma will also host a sand volleyball tournament March 23 at the fraternity’s house on South Jefferson Street; it costs $40 for a four-person team to enter and all proceeds will go to charity.

Jackson Carroll, philanthropy chairman and community service chairman of Kappa Sigma, pointed out that though philanthropy is about helping others, it comes with practical benefits as well.

“It teaches young men to give their time and efforts to something much bigger than themselves … [and] how to become better leaders at planning events, handling funds, and communication skills with others,” he said.

Other organizations such as Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a music fraternity – though not usually referred to as part of Greek Life – create inventive and interactive ways to raise money for “advancing music in America.” They host an annual game of Assassin, and part of the proceeds benefit their goal to share music with others.

“We always try to bring music to schools that either don’t have music programs or … buy musical instruments or stands and bring them to local schools,” Treasurer Logan Turner said.

Tau Beta Sigma, a co-ed band sorority, shares some of the same goals as Phi Mu Alpha. President Eric Pannell said philanthropy, especially when involving the arts, is important to recognize and participate in.

“We show that we work for a good cause and that people still believe in that cause,” he said. “[Our effort] also helps promote band programs because, sadly, band programs are one of the first programs to lose funding.”

Sigma Alpha Iota, another music fraternity, donates their time and money to music programs in the Natchitoches area, and in April will have a car wash fundraiser.

“We felt that it was important to support these programs because as musicians and musician advocates we want students to have the same or better opportunities to participate in music as we did,” President Jackie Coleman said.

More information about Greek Life can be found online at www.nsula.edu/greeklife/

Jordan Reich

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