U fraternity raises money for house-fire victim

Sigma Lambda Beta held events at Chilly Billy’s and online to raise $2,500.

Pi Delta Psi senior Patrick Lin pays for a frozen yogurt at Chilly Billy's on Monday in Dinkytown.

Anthony Kwan

Pi Delta Psi senior Patrick Lin pays for a frozen yogurt at Chilly Billy’s on Monday in Dinkytown.

Jia Guo

For Yeeleng Vue, this yearâÄôs Thanksgiving was full of gratitude even though he and his family lost their home three days prior and were still living in a hotel.

Vue, a junior and member of the Sigma Lambda Beta multicultural fraternity at the University of Minnesota, never thought that his home would burn down 10 minutes after he left it on Nov. 21.

He said the fire started when his two younger sisters were at home, but that they got out successfully and ran to neighbors for help. Nobody was injured.

Abdul Abdirahman, the president of the fraternity, and other members helped set up a fundraising activity at Chilly BillyâÄôs Monday night.

Abdirahman said Vue is always caring and accommodating. Now, it was the fraternityâÄôs time to help Vue and his family. For about four hours, 10 to 15 percent of sales at Chilly BillyâÄôs went to fundraising for VueâÄôs family. People could also stop by the restaurant at any time during the day and donate money.

Abdirahman said he expected to collect $2,500 in total, including $1,000 already donated through a donation website. The money came from Sigma Lambda Beta members as well as from other brotherhood chapters across the nation, including in New York, California and Texas.

âÄúWe were able to raise a decent amount, but there is nothing compared to the damage that the family [had],âÄù Abdirahman said, âÄúand the fact that you know they are going to find somewhere else to live, at least within two weeks, so we just want to help them out.âÄù

Vue said there was an estimated $90,000 worth of damage to the house. But the actual loss was beyond when considering that historical pictures, traditional clothing and jewelry were lost as well.

Now, Vue and his family are living in a Marriott for a short time. He said he and his family are looking for some temporary housing close to Saint Paul.

Vue said this year, the family celebrated Thanksgiving in his uncleâÄôs home. He said this yearâÄôs Thanksgiving was different because they usually celebrated in his own home âÄî but he and his family still had a âÄúbig feast.âÄù

âÄúI never expect them to do this for me,âÄù Vue said. âÄúI was surprised, and [it] made me appreciate the brotherhood we had. It made think what I had after the fire when I had nothing.âÄù

Tommy DeMarco, director of brotherhood for the fraternity, said when he heard about the fire, he and his fraternity brothers tried to come up with ideas to help Vue out. He said they believed providing financial support would be the best way to help the family.

âÄúI am very grateful that we have the community to support here at the U of M,âÄù DeMarco said. âÄúI am grateful that Chilly BillyâÄôs is so involved in the community because it really showed that we can be there for Yeeleng.âÄù