Alpha Tau Omega’s philanthropy week to honor deceased member’s nonprofit

The brothers of Alpha Tau Omega host multiple philanthropy events a year, including Cuts 4 Cancer in the fall. Lariat File Photo

By Sarah Gallaher | Staff Writer

Most fraternities and sororities participate in national philanthropic efforts, but the brothers of Alpha Tau Omega are bringing it a little closer to home. As part of Viking Week, which is named after the fraternity’s mascot, Alpha Tau Omega will host a variety of fundraising events next week benefiting CoHOPE — an international nonprofit named after Coho Menk, who died in 2017.

Coho Menk was an undergraduate student at Baylor and a member of Alpha Tau Omega. Menk had a heart for service and went on mission trips with his family often. Following his death in 2017, his mother, Beth Messerly, founded CoHOPE in his honor to help children in underserved communities.

“The spirit of Coho inspired the creation of CoHOPE, combining Coho’s name with the Hope and promise of his brief but full life, the international friendships he formed, and the selfless ways he served others,” the CoHOPE website reads.

Kirkland, Wash., sophomore and Alpha Tau Omega member Thomas Flynn said Messerly is like family, and he enjoys the opportunity to serve alongside his brothers.

“It’s a very near and dear organization to every ATO,” Flynn said.

Although most of the current members of Alpha Tau Omega did not know Menk, they still honor his memory through service. Memphis, Tenn., sophomore and philanthropy chair Miller Manguno said shifting the focus of philanthropy from the national organization to a local cause made members more excited to serve and fundraise.

“This year, we wanted to make philanthropy a priority,” Manguno said. “Rather than something we have to do, it’s something we all want to do. It’s a shift of culture — kind of a big thing for ATO.”

Although Viking Week has been a popular fundraising tactic for other chapters of Alpha Tau Omega, this is the first year Baylor’s Theta Nu chapter has participated. Manguno said he hopes to raise between $20,000 and $25,000 to benefit CoHOPE.

“Everything we’re doing is loosely themed, like we’ll have guys wearing viking helmets and things, but I think more of the emphasis is [on] the service aspect,” Manguno said.

Viking Week will officially kick off on March 18 with a variety of fundraising activities. Members will table at Fountain Mall throughout the week, selling shirts and giving out free bracelets. Alpha Tau Omega will host a bake sale on March 20 on Fountain Mall, followed by a car wash on March 21 at McLane Stadium.

Manguno said March 22 will be the most exciting day, as there will be a thrift store set up on Fountain Mall and a concert at Common Grounds that night.

“All of the sororities and ATO are going to donate clothes, and we’ll sell them at a really cheap price,” Manguno said. “Our leftover clothes will be given to Mission Waco for free.”

In addition to donations, the thrifting event will host some professional thrifters who will be selling valuable finds at a premium price.

Alpha Tau Omega is inviting sororities to participate in Viking Week, offering a percentage of the profits to go to the sororities’ philanthropies if enough members participate. By using a point system, sororities can compete with each other while supporting their philanthropies as well as CoHOPE.

“It’s kind of a fun way to get all of Greek Life on campus involved,” Manguno said.

Despite the partnership between Alpha Tau Omega and sororities, Viking Week is open to everyone. Manguno and Flynn encouraged all to attend and support a good cause that is meaningful to the brothers of Alpha Tau Omega.

“It’s not just for people in Greek Life,” Flynn said. “I think that the hope is to get all of the student population involved, not just those who are in sororities or fraternities.”

Sarah Gallaher is a sophomore from Seattle, Washington majoring in public relations with a minor in political science. During her first year on the Lariat staff, she hopes to help inform her fellow students about things happening on campus. Sarah plans to return to Seattle after graduation to pursue a career in corporate public relations.