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Participating in Greek Life at Merrimack Means Focusing on Philanthropy

Briana Alberghini

Staff Writer ‘21

One thing that all four Greek Life organizations at Merrimack College can say is that they are dedicated to spreading awareness to their philanthropies. Kappa Sigma, Theta Phi Alpha, Tau Kappa Epsilon, and Zeta Tau Alpha has been very busy these past few months showing how dedicated they are to raising money and making a difference. 

Kappa Sigma’s national philanthropy is the Military Heroes Campaign. This campaign gives ongoing care for military veterans and their families. Kappa Sigma’s philanthropy chair, Ryan Williams, said that one of the most successful events that had this semester was their Military Appreciation Night at a Merrimack Men’s Hockey game. 

The second annual Military Appreciation Night was held during Veterans Week, which was November 4 through 9. In order to prepare for this huge week, they placed American flags all around campus to spread awareness and recognize veterans. To help raise money for this event, they partnered  with Veternan Moving Forward, which is a company that uses puppies to rehabilitate and transition veterans back into civilian society. They made shirts with both the Merrimack logo and Veterans Moving Forward logo and sold them during Veterans Week and the hockey game. Shirts were available to students, veterans, and anyone who attended the hockey game. They were able to raise two thousand dollars for the charity by selling shirts, having a raffle at the hockey game, and having a chuck a puck. 

Another yearly event that Kappa Sigma participates in is the Disabled American Veterans 5K in Boston. Last month, 15 brothers attended the DAV 5K to volunteer at the walk, walk a mile, or run. 

Kappa Sigma also participates in other philanthropic events during the course of the semester aside from those relating to their direct philanthropy, such as Mack Gives Back and the Sucidie Prevention Walk. Kappa Sigma’s 60 brothers have completed  over 1500 hours of community service just this semester, and they have raised $4600 for their philanthropy.

“Being philanthropy chair means a lot to me. I believe that it is our [Kappa Sigmas’] social responsibility to give back to our community and make a difference,” said Ryan Williams. 

Theta Phi Alpha’s national philanthropy is hunger and homelessness. One of their national partners, The House That Theta Phi Alpha Built, which has the goal of providing for the homeless through shelters, home building, or neighborhood revitalization projects. 

Theta Phi Alpha’s philanthropy chair, Olivia Danjou, said that one of the most successful events they have had this year was a backpack drive for foster children. Theta Phi Alpha partnered up with the Foster Kids of Merrimack Valley this semester and filled over 80 backpacks with school supplies before the school year started. These backpacks help foster kids get the essentials they need in order to get back to school and  ensure that their academic success would not be inhibited. This new partnership led to other opportunities with the company, such as becoming Santa’s Helpers. The sisters of Theta Phi Alpha will be paired up with foster kids and will buy gifts that are on their wishlists. 

“It is incredibly important to give back during this time of year, and this is the perfect way to do so,” Danjou said. 

For hunger and homelessness week, which is November 18 through the 23, Theta Phi Alpha also did a day of service at Bread and Roses Soup Kitchen in Lawrence. This was an all day event where 23 sisters went and made food, served food, cleaned, and more. They also partnered up with the other sorority on campus, Zeta Tau Alpha, and did a canned food and clothing drives. All proceeds went directly to the Daybreak Shelter in Lawrence. 

In the spring, Theta Phi Alpha plans to make bags of supplies to give to women under the bridge in Lawrence that are homeless. This is something that the sorority does and each year. 

 “I realized that I can do more than I thought that when it comes to giving back to my community,” Danjou said.  “I always knew that I could donate food and volunteer my time, but I didn’t know that I could partner with people that could help my community and make this big of a difference.” 

Tau Kappa Epsilon’s national philanthropy is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which is an organization that hopes to end childhood cancer. Tau Kappa Epsilon president, Mike Neff, said that one of the most successful events they have been having for the last two decades is “TKE in a Box.” This week-long event from November 17 to November 23 entails building and sleeping in a box to mimic some shelters you may see homeless people create to stay warm for the winter. During this week, they accept donations and this year they are expecting to raise over $5000. All of the money raised will be donated to the Lazarus Homeless shelter in Lawrence. Each  year this event has become more successful for the chapter, as each year they grow in numbers of donations. 

An event Tau Kappa Epsilon also participates in the annual St. Jude walk in Boston. They were able to raise $6000 for this event.  At this walk, other Tau Kappa Epsilon chapters attend in hopes to raise awareness to beat childhood cancer. They have the option to volunteer, walk, or run. This event is also open to the public. Each year, Merrimack holds the event“Lift for the Kids” and this was the first year that Tau Kappa Epsilon hosted the event. At the Merrimack Fitness Center, they block off two thirds of the gym and have a powerlifting competition. Men and women compete in best bench, deadlift, and squat. The event raised $1200 and all proceeds went directly to St. Jude. 

This year they recently added a new partnership with the Boys and Girls Club. At this club, a few of the brothers volunteer their time and help out with sports. They are also in the works of trying to help the children with educational aspects, such as biology and chemistry. 

“As philanthropy chair for the last two years, I have really grown as a person. It has been great to raise more money for our philanthropy each year,” said Jake Alben.

Zeta Tau Alpha’s national philanthropy is Breast Cancer Education and Awareness. Nationwide, they have partnerships with the NFL, Bright Pink, and the American Cancer Society. Zeta Tau Alpha’s philanthropy chair, Danielle Hersey, said that one of the most successful events they had this semester was their auction. The auction is a yearly event that always takes place in October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month. The auction is their big fall fundraiser and all students, faculty, and staff are invited. Through donations from each of the girls for items to auction off they were able to raise over $4700 for their philanthropy. 

Another big event is their first annual Mr. ZTA “beauty pageant.” Thirteen male contestants competed on campus in casual wear, talent, and formal wear categories. This funny event raised a little over $1000 towards their philanthropy. 

“I was excited to plan this because it was her first event as Director of Philanthropy, and I was so excited it was such a huge success,” said Hersey.

When Zeta Tau Alpha is not having big events during the month of October, they do smaller events such as a table for their philanthropy, which is also known as Think Pink Week. Think Pink Week is a chance for Zeta Tau Alpha to bring awareness to breast cancer and raise money while doing so. This year they were selling pink lemonade and pink frosted cupcakes and were also accepting donations. 

“Through Zeta Tau Alpha as a whole, I have learned more about making an impact and my leadership abilities, but by being Director of Philanthropy I have a more hands-on ability to make a difference and a clearer view of what and why we fundraise,” said Hersey. Hersey also realized how much of a change she is able to make, especially with the support of her all her sisters. 

With the holidays coming up, Greek Life has done a great job to make sure that they give back to their community. In the spring, all four of the organizations will continue to host events and raise more money for their philanthropies.