Trick-or-treat for canned food

by Vadim Lavrusik

Residents in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood might have been confused Halloween night when University students knocked on their doors saying, “Trick or canned food item, please.”

Instead of trick-or-treating for candy, members of fraternity Phi Gamma Delta and sorority Alpha Phi decided to treat those in need by collecting non-perishable food items for Sharing and Caring Hands, a Minneapolis-based relief organization.

Dressed in costumes like Fred Flintstone or a vine of grapes, the two groups went around the neighborhoods for two hours.

Adam Engelman, Phi Gamma Delta philanthropy chair, said he hoped the event would help build a positive relationship between the greek community and the neighborhoods they inhabit, “so people who aren’t greek can see that greeks are passionate about community service and also get them involved as well.”

Engelman estimated 150 to 200 food items were collected, but the fraternity and sorority are continuing to collect items throughout the week.

Engelman, who got the idea from a church he used to attend, said there was no set goal for the number of cans the groups wanted to collect because this is the first time either has done such a philanthropy event. If the event becomes an annual tradition, the fraternity will establish a goal, he said.

He decided on a laid-back philanthropy event incorporating a holiday, hoping to get a lot of greeks involved.

“Sometimes it is hard to get people to do community service because I understand people are in college and they only have a little amount of time,” he said.

Alpha Phi was the first to respond to an e-mail he sent out to all sororities, asking to team up for the event, Engelman said.

Allison Evans, Alpha Phi president, said the sorority decided to take part in the event because Phi Gamma

Delta is one of the fraternities they are paired with for upcoming homecoming events.

Evans, who was unable to attend the event due to a night class, said the sorority also wanted to do something different as part of Halloween festivities.

“We thought it would be a fun and productive way to spend Halloween,” she said, “Show our Halloween spirit for a good cause.”

Emma Johnson, director of philanthropy for Alpha Phi, said with the weather getting cold outside, it is even more important to help the needy.

“The food shelves are always in need, and it’s cool that we can help out a little bit,” Johnson said.

Residents who donated food items gave anything from pasta to canned beans and most seemed eager to help out.

Graduate student Julie Schmidt Bowen said she was surprised when the students explained what they were doing after knocking on her door.

She said it was great to see students out on Halloween doing something productive and that the greek students taking part in the event are setting a good example for others to follow.

Everyone on campus is indirectly affected by homelessness, she said.

“You see a lot of homeless people on campus,” she said. “Collecting food is a good idea because it is something that you know will help them directly.”