Baylor greek sororities give back

Tri Delta's fall 2017 trip to St. Jude in Memphis Photo credit: Chandler Oestereich

By Brooke Hill | Staff Writer

Five first ladies, 61 Emmy award winners and 41 former Miss Americas were sorority women. The leadership shown by these high achiever goes beyond just achieving milestones for themselves.

Dedication to fundraising for their philanthropies has led the eight Panhellenic sororities to collectively raise more than $373,100 for their charities since January.

Zeta Tau Alpha‘s philanthropy is breast cancer education and awareness. By spreading the message of breast cancer education and awareness, Zeta sisters are determined to diminish this disease, according to their website.

Baylor Zeta raises money through its event Big Man on Campus, a male pageant show in which men compete in a lip sync battle, question and answer session and pink-out clothing.

“Our philanthropy has allowed our chapter to unite toward a common goal, and has also shown that we have all been impacted by this terrible disease in one way or another,” said Olivia Borba, Zeta philanthropy chair.

Reading Is Fundamental, which fights for literacy nationwide, is Kappa Kappa Gamma‘s philanthropy. This year, it fundraised through a spaghetti dinner called Not so Formal and through its annual Kappa Karnival.

“I love serving with RIF because we get the opportunity to contribute monetarily by raising money and also personally where we read with and spend one-on-one time with Pre-K and kindergarten children,” said Anna Claire Minter, Kappa philanthropy chair. “It has been so humbling to watch my chapter be so intentional with loving on kids and see how the kids’ confidence grows when they feel truly heard and believed in.”

Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich their final days. Baylor Chi Omega fundraises for this philanthropy in the fall through its annual Chili Cook Off. Before the event, they send letters out to friends and family to ask for donations for Make-A-Wish North Texas. At the event, all money raised from chili sales goes toward Make-A-Wish. It also has Wish Week in the spring, which consists of a week of profit shares, an on-campus walk-a-thon and and a sand volleyball tournament. At both of these events, the sorority invites various Wish families who have been granted wishes (or are in the process of being granted a wish) through the organization and live in the Waco area.

“Make-A-Wish North Texas is near to my heart,” said Lauren Knapton, Chi Omega philanthropy chair. “One of my best friends from home was granted a wish to go to Italy with her family for a week while she was battling cancer. I saw the impact that this trip had on her and her family, and I am forever grateful for this organization. One of the many reasons I love Chi Omega is because our philanthropy is so important to us, and our members care a lot about it.”

Alpha Chi Omega‘s philanthropy is domestic violence awareness. Baylor Alpha Chi fundraised for the Waco family abuse center through its block party event this fall, as well as taking donations internally so that it can provide dinners every week, as well as donate needed items on a regular basis.

“Being able to work in the local community is a great blessing for our sisterhood,” said Katie Galgano, Alpha Chi philanthropy chair. “While working on campus is great, stepping outside of your bubble creates an entirely new environment. It’s amazing to see how new friendships form while volunteering. You have a chance to get to know women outside of your immediate friend group.”

Delta Delta Delta‘s philanthropy is St. Jude Children’s Research hospital. Baylor Tri Delta was the top Tri Delta chapter in the nation for fundraising this past year, raising $246,00. During its annual letter writing campaign, “Sincerely Yours,” the women sent out over 14,000 letters that resulted in over $180,000 in donations. It also fundraises through Tri Delta gameday, where everyone is invited to watch an away football game on the field at McLane, and Delta Night Live, a concert it hosts in the spring.

“I think it’s super important to highlight the heart behind greek life, and convey that it’s not just about sisterhood, date events, and t-shirts, but it’s so much more than that,” said Chandler Oestereich, Tri Delta philanthropy chair.

Pi Beta Phi’s philanthropy, Read Lead Achieve, is an organization that strives to spread awareness and importance of literacy. The Baylor chapter participates in efforts to raise literacy rates in Waco by participating in a program called Champions Are Readers. In this program, one Pi Phi is paired with a third grade student at South Waco Elementary School and they meet once a week to listen to their buddies read and raise their literacy levels.

“This program has been so awesome to be apart of because, we get to see results and improvement right here in our community,” said Jordan Hickey, Pi Phi philanthropy chair. “Once a week, every single week, we show up and love on our buddies. We get to encourage them, ask them about their interests, and show them that we value them. It’s amazing to see how just 30 minutes a week can lift their spirits and motivate them to be the best they can be in school and as a person.”

Kappa Alpha Theta‘s philanthropy is Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), an organization that supports and promotes court-appointed advocates for abused or neglected children in order to provide children with a safe and healthy home environment. Baylor Theta fundraises for CASA through their annual CASA 5K run in the fall, as well as an event in the spring called CASA couture where local vendors set up shops in Theta’s chapter room and donate a portion of their sales to CASA. Baylor Theta also made a personalized blanket for every CASA kid in McLennan county for Christmas this year.

“CASA is a blessing to serve,” said Sirina Thompson, Theta philanthropy director. “I’ve loved getting to know the local representatives and see Theta’s opportunities to serve and donate to CASA grow. It’s not just another cause, it’s a way to tangibly change lives.”

Alpha Delta Pi‘s philanthropy is Ronald McDonald House Charities, which provides a home for families to stay when a child is staying in a nearby hospital. Baylor ADPi serves by going down to the Temple Ronald McDonald house once a month to cook, clean, plant flowers and help with whatever may be needed that month. This past year it has raised money through a week of profit shares, a letter drive and PiHop, a pancake event with a photo booth and games.

“Regardless of what you are doing to help out, it is such a huge blessing for the families and the staff,” said Jamie Jennings, ADPi philanthropy chair. “It provides hope for them in a place that may not always have a positive atmosphere. People that stay there have kids that are very sick and RMHC allows them to stay close to their family during this time.”