Spring philanthropies abound on Grounds

A look at how Greek spring philanthropies make impacts on national, local levels

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Greek organizations at the University are kicking their philanthropy efforts into full gear as spring arrives.

Kelsey Grant | Cavalier Daily

With events ranging from Derby Days to races and carnivals, Greek organizations at the University are bustling this spring to fundraise for causes near and dear to their respective groups. The brothers of Sigma Chi have restructured their national Derby Days fundraiser, while members of Zeta Tau Alpha are preparing for another pink-filled 5k race. The sisters in Sigma Delta Tau have revamped their fundraising strategy completely, holding the first ever “It’s Great to be a Kid” Carnival. Aside from raising awareness, these Greek organizations are looking to impact their respective philanthropies by raising money to help the organizations progress and better the lives of hundreds of people.

Philanthropy spotlights

For many years, Sigma Chi fraternity has partnered with the Children’s Miracle Network to raise money for the University’s Children’s Hospital. Each year, Sigma Chi hosts Derby Days, a national fundraiser in which sororities partake in competitions — such as a coin drop, an obstacle course, and powderpuff football — in the hopes of co-signing the check donated to the hospital. Since not all individuals participate in Greek life, the brothers have also found other ways to facilitate the fundraising process. The organization has created an online donation page, in which donations go directly to the Children’s Miracle Network, and the brothers also sell merchandise. This year, Sigma Chi is rallying around their miracle kid David, who was born with Down Syndrome and diagnosed with a Stage IV Wilms’ Tumor in 2011.

With the arrival of spring, many sororities are beginning to fundraise for their philanthropies as well. Every year, the sisters of Zeta Tau Alpha organize a 5k race around Grounds to promote breast cancer awareness as well as raise funds for further breast cancer education and awareness. Many students, faculty and community members attend the annual “Run for Life” to help with the cause. The race benefits both the local University Breast Care Center and the Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation. The race costs $15 for University students and $20 for non-University students, and all of the proceeds are split between both organizations.

This year, the sisters of Sigma Delta Tau are hosting their first 90s-themed carnival, and all of the proceeds are given to their national philanthropy, Prevent Child Abuse America. The PCAA supports women and children across all 50 states by providing them with financial security and education. By hosting this fundraiser for the first time, the sisters are hoping to better align themselves with the mission of their organization as well as enhance engagement with the student community.

Are these organizations making a difference?

For the Sigma Chi brothers, the goal of Derby Days is raising money to be used by the Children’s Hospital in any way possible. This year, the brothers have made an effort to refocus the event around the charity to garner even more support.

Many programs the hospital runs are impossible without donations like those from Sigma Chi, Jory Segal, fourth-year Commerce student and philanthropy chair, said.

“When we were touring the hospital, we were actually able to see how our donations are being used,” Segal said. “There is an art therapy room and a small school for kids who have to leave school for a long time. They rely on donations for these programs. For this reason, we feel like we are really making a difference.”

While Sigma Chi’s philanthropy has a local impact, the Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation has established partnerships with national organizations such as the American Cancer Society. The money raised by the sisters at the University is donated to the foundation and used to ensure early breast cancer detection and prevention. However, money also goes to the Breast Care Center, which serves the same purpose at the local level.

“I think all of us hope that we are making an impact both locally and nationally because we're very passionate about this cause,” Greer Goss, a third-year College student and race chair, said.

At the same time, the sisters of Sigma Delta Tau are working to benefit a national philanthropy through their carnival. With all chapters across the nation combined, Sigma Delta Tau has become one of the PCAA’s highest donors.

“That is the good thing of plugging into a national philanthropy: we are making a huge difference together,” Philanthropy Chair Michaela Brown, a second-year College student, said.

Monetary impact

Last year, the brothers of Sigma Chi donated $23,300 to the Children’s Miracle Network, and their goal this year is to raise $25,000. All the brothers undertake efforts to raise awareness as well as money for the organization, and all proceeds go to the Children’s Miracle Network.

In addition, the sisters of Zeta Tau Alpha raised over $30,000 to benefit both the Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation as well as the University Breast Care Center last year. This year, the sisters hope to raise even more.

Last year, the Sigma Delta Tau sisters raised $2,500 through spring philanthropy, and this year they are hoping to raise $3,000 in the carnival. All of the proceeds from this event will be given to the PCAA. Last year, as a national sorority, Sigma Delta Tau raised $325,000 for the PCAA.

Outside philanthropy season

Last year, Sigma Chi partnered with Dance Marathon — a group which also raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network. The brothers have also tried to get more involved with the “Miracle Kids” by visiting the Children’s Hospital.

“There will be a few children [from the hospital] at the Dance Marathon, and all the brothers of Sigma Chi go,” Segal said. “First semester, half of our brotherhood was able to tour the children’s hospital, so we can actually personally see what we are doing. We are still partnered with Dance Marathon and we're excited to raise more money than ever for the kids.”

Segal — along with fellow philanthropy chair Blake Anderson, a third-year Engineering student — said he wants to make Derby Days more than just a one-week fundraiser in March, and both believe they have laid the groundwork for future extension.

The sisters of Zeta Tau Alpha carry on their breast cancer awareness efforts throughout the year. In the fall, the sisters have Pink Week, in which they pass out ribbons at a University football game to educate others about breast cancer. While the sisters also raise money during this week, the focus of the week is promoting awareness.

“It’s important to make community aware [of breast cancer] because it’s a major part of many people’s lives,” Greer said. “We pass out ribbons so everyone can wear it to the game, and that’s a very nice thing to see.”

While all proceeds from Sigma Delta Tau’s carnival fundraiser support the PCAA, the sisters work year-round to promote awareness and advocacy for a local philanthropy, the Jewish Women International, an organization that aims to empower women through financial literacy, community safety and leadership training. Obstacles prevent sisters from working directly with children affected by abuse, but they sell OPI nail polish in the fall and all proceeds benefit the local group.

“At the end of the day, certain people are going to be connected to different causes, and if you are really passionate about a certain cause, then I promote that culture of philanthropy and giving back,” Brown said. “Our sorority wants you to get involved in whatever you feel most passionate about. As great as it is to raise money for PCAA, I am proud that my sisters are also raising money for these other amazing [local] organizations.”

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