Greeks organize events to raise money for charity

Sorority and fraternity members gathered on University Avenue Southeast Friday night, hollering at those passing and honking at cars to stop and smash theirs up.

Sorority Gamma Phi Beta and fraternity Alpha Delta Phi were holding their first car smash, allowing students to take a smack at a Gamma Phi member’s old car with a sledgehammer for a dollar a pop.

Half of the money raised will go to Students Against Destructive Decisions and half will go to Hurricane Katrina relief, said Gamma Phi Beta president and retail merchandising senior Trista Brazier.

“We wanted to do something different and one of our girls’ cars just died,” Brazier said.

Gamma Phi Beta isn’t the only chapter in the greek community taking part in philanthropy. Each year, chapters raise money for a variety of organizations and nonprofits as part of their national credos.

Erin Clapper, president of Alpha Chi Omega and a Spanish senior, said the chapter donated $1,000 to Women’s Advocate, a domestic violence shelter in St. Paul.

“We hear so much about women being taken advantage of,” she said. “It hits home because we are able to donate to this cause.”

Last spring, sorority Alpha Phi raised $1,400 as part of its spring “Alpha Phiesta” event, where it sold chips and dip for a donation.

Many women join sororities looking forward to the community service they can do, said Molly Hovel, elementary education senior and Alpha Phi president.

Director of philanthropy for Alpha Phi and art history junior Carlon Morgan said the 75 girls in the chapter are required to spend a few hours a week volunteering. Members have worked with the Red Cross, People Serving People and the Special Olympics.

“It helps create well-rounded students who want to give back to the community,” Morgan said.

This goal isn’t just for sororities; University fraternities are pitching in as well.

“(Community service) is what we are based on,” said biomedical engineering senior and Interfraternity Council Vice President Peter Setter. “Our community service is always a main focus.”

He said many fraternities work with the Red Cross and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, along with organizing a Halloween event for underprivileged kids this fall. He said there has been a lot of support for philanthropy projects in the greek community.

Alpha Omicron Phi, Sigma Nu and Lambda Delta Phi also donated nearly $4,000 to the Red Cross for victims of Hurricane Katrina instead of spending the money on a housefront for homecoming this year.

Elementary education graduate student Kelsey Reed said greek philanthropy helps raise money and materials through activities such as coat drives.

Of the 75 percent of sororities and 50 percent of fraternities that have reported their totals for fall 2005, greek community members have donated more than 6,000 volunteer hours and raised more than $15,000, said Kat Baugher, executive vice president of the Panhellenic Council.

She estimated that approximately $50,000 was raised for charities by the greek community in 2004.

Panhellenic Council President Abby Weinandt said the work helps area residents.

“It is our base as a community,” she said. “We find it to be a focal point and each chapter has philanthropy to focus on. This is a huge city with so many opportunities and we have the manpower to do it.”

Erika Iverson is the volunteer and intern coordinator for People Serving People, a homeless shelter in Minneapolis. She said students come in a few times a month and help read and serve food to children.

She said volunteering at the shelter can have a strong effect on the students.

“It’s good for college kids to see a different style of life,” she said. “They see something different from where they grew up and (students) seem to genuinely care.”

Chad Ellsworth, student activities adviser for Greek Affairs, said the University encourages chapters to get involved.

“It’s a great way to promote the ideals of the fraternities and sororities.”