Kappa Kappa Gamma works to improve literacy

More than 1,000 sorority women from around the country volunteered to help children learn to love reading Friday at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City.

With donations coming from the United States and Canada, Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority members created more than 500 bags containing books, bookmarks and written letters of encouragement. The items were delivered to three Salt Lake City organizations: CAP Head Start, YMCA-Lolie Eccles Childcare Center and Neighborhood House.

The purpose of the service project was to give out the materials and to show women how easy it is to do a service project that benefits the Reading Is Fundamental program, said Carol Sanders, director of alumni for Kappa Kappa Gamma.

The RIF program works to build a literate nation by encouraging young people to read. The sorority has had a philanthropic partnership with RIF for two years.

The service project was part of the sorority’s biennial national convention. Members of the U’s Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter shouldered many responsibilities for the event, including obtaining the necessary materials, coordinating the volunteer effort and table decorations.

The intention of the convention was to help each chapter generate ideas about how to improve their individual sororities, network and have fun. The participants were a mix of active members and alumni of the 131 chapters in North America.

“I make friends and never see them again because there are so many people,” said Mary Dudley, a junior interior design major and president of the U’s Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter.

Sam Massau, a senior marketing major at Bowling Green University in Ohio, said although the women come from all around the country, they have similar personalities.

“The only difference are the (diverse) accents,” Massau said.

At Bowling Green, her chapter raises about $5,000 for charity through a golfing activity. She said the convention helped her gain new ways to improve the event by speaking with members of other chapters who put on similar activities but had four times the success.

Salt Lake City was chosen as the location to help the women of the sorority see different parts of the country, said Julie Jones, meeting coordinator for Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Caitlin James, a junior nursing major at the U and an active liaison for the convention, participated in planning meetings each month for the past year.

She said she was impressed by what she learned from the alumni that attended the convention.

“Being a member is a life-long thing,” James said. “The leadership you learn now you will use the rest of your life-whether you’re 20 or 90.”

When the women had time off from the convention, some left the confines of the hotel.

“We went to The Gateway Mall. That’s a cool place,” said Sutton Schuler, a sophomore majoring in construction management at Colorado State University. “We also rode TRAX, but ended up getting lost.”

The convention concluded Sunday.

Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority members Holly Uphold, Caitlin James, Mary Dudley and greek Advisor Lori McDonald help organize the service project for the Reading Is Fundamental program at the Grand America Hotel on Friday.