Greek Row: Members opt for service clothes over togas

By By Michael McFall

By Michael McFall

The media might show members of fraternities and sororities as living to “rock ‘n’ roll all night and party every day,” as the band Kiss put it, but service efforts of U Greeks show they have priorities that the stereotypes don’t portray.

The houses of Greek Row, each of which supports one foundation or philanthropic group, lend their service to the community through monetary donations and helping hands.

“There is always such a negative stereotype out there that it’s important for those outsiders to see how much of a difference we really make in a community,” said Kellianne Lakis, president of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority.

For instance, the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity supports the Kevin B. Kennedy Memorial Game Ball Run by raising $15,000 annually for Camp Hobe, a non-profit camp benefiting children with cancer.

The Game Ball Run is the largest philanthropic effort supported by U Greeks, where fraternity members run a relay race from Rice-Eccles Stadium to Provo to collect donations for Camp Hobe.

Two weeks ago, the Chi Omega sorority raised more than $700 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation as part of its annual philanthropy week.

Tonight, the Sigma Chi fraternity will auction off its members as dates, with all proceeds going to the Huntsman Cancer Institute. The auction is part of its week-long fundraiser known as Derby Days.

“Our house has actually successfully raised thousands of dollars every year, and because of our donations, we actually have a room in the Huntsman Cancer Institute named after our fraternity,” said president Tim Jones.

Between July 2005 and August 2006, the Sigma Chi house raised more than $10,000 for the Huntsman Cancer Institute. In previous years, the house raised $20,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network, a non-profit organization that raises funds for children’s hospitals, medical research and community awareness of children’s health issues.

Every Greek Row house has a week to host fundraising events for its charity. The Delta Gamma sorority has Splash Week, which includes an open basketball competition and Saturday breakfast. Between Nov. 12 and 17, all proceeds from the contest and breakfast will go to Service for Sight, an organization that contributes to both the Society to Prevent Blindness Utah Affiliate and the Delta Gamma Foundation to Prevent Blindness.

However, service goes beyond raising money.

“Every member of Delta Gamma performs at least five hours each semester of community service,” said house president Andrea Sidwell.

The women of Kappa Kappa Gamma have donated their time and energy to the Reading Is Fundamental program, which encourages children to read. The men of Sigma Nu volunteer at Festival of Trees each Christmas season. Kappa Sigma regularly volunteers with highway clean-ups and Habitat for Humanity.

“One of our main purposes of the Greek system is to take young college students and give them the tools…that will help them become better people themselves and better members of the community,” said Justin Noertker, president of Pi Kappa Alpha.

The Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity requires that members contribute 50 hours of community service before they can join, said house president Chris Morgan. Once accepted, fraternity members serve food at homeless centers around Christmas and hold a fundraiser for Youth AIDS and the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Utah.

Since fraternities and sororities live in the same house, they can support local events and efforts in effective, consistent numbers.

On Halloween, members from all the Greek chapters went to the Neighborhood House and helped put on different activities for underprivileged children, said Hannah Watkins, house president of Chi Omega.

Houses can almost always get a group of 10 to 15 members to help out at a service event, said John Tieso, a member of Sigma Nu.

Tieso used to be involved with the Boy Scouts and appreciates that his interest in community service can pass on through fraternity activities, such as going with his house brothers to help set up at the annual Art and Soup fundraiser for Community Nursing Services.

Even after the fundraisers and outreaches are done, some Greeks continue to serve their community.

Stephanie Clemens, a member of Alpha Chi Omega, volunteers at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center when time allows. Several Sigma Phi Epsilon members are also involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

“I’ve seen the stereotype (about fraternities and sororities) shattered to pieces because of the service we take the time to do here,” Lakis said.

[email protected]

Jarad Reddekopp

Sorority sisters entertained guests Monday night at the Kappa Gobble. The Kappa Gobble is an annual fund raiser where participants gather to enjoy pie and other foods.