September 20, 2001

Greek System Helps Disaster Relief Effort

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Almost as soon as the Cornell community became aware of the terrorist attacks last week in New York City and Washington, D.C., the Greek system began raising money and providing various services to support the disaster relief efforts.

Cornell’s Greek system as a whole raised well over $15,000, which is expected to at least double with the projections of fundraisers that are scheduled to start in the coming weeks.

According to Jason Conn ’03, vice president for University and Community relations for the Interfraternity Council and a member of the Sigma Epsilon fraternity, numerous houses have come out to support the relief efforts because many have strong connections to alumni living in both New York City and Washington, D.C.

“With our long lists of alumni dating back many decades, and our thousands of students on campus, I doubt there was a house on campus that did not have a personal connection to the victims,” said Conn.

Last week, the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority raised $4,448 in donations to the American Red Cross in just three days at a table on Ho Plaza.

According to John Zelenka ’03, the philanthropy chair of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, the brothers originally wanted to change the date of their annual blood drive to a sooner date, but were told by the Red Cross that this was not possible. They were told, however, that the best way to help in the Red Cross’ disaster relief effort was to donate money.

According to Zelenka, within an hour of the collapse of the World Trade Towers, Ben Steinberg ’02, president of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, Trevor Connor ’93, alumni advisor, and Yvonne McKinnon ’02, president of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority had arranged to set up a donation table on Ho Plaza indefinitely and had scheduled members to work at the table.

“Being able to help out in this little way when you look at it in the grand scheme of things, that this was so important for us as a community. Sitting at the table, donating money, time, blood, all those Cornellians who donated, let us get a sense of doing something, acting out as Americans, and just made everything a little easier to deal with,” said Zelenka.

Also, the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity raised $1,000 in donations at their party on the National Day of Peace and Remembrance, which they plan to send to the American Red Cross.

Some houses have modified existing fundraisers to support the disaster relief efforts. In another effort, the Sigma Chi fraternity has pledged to donate all of the proceeds from its annual Derby Days to a disaster relief fund which has not yet been decided.

According to JP Parker ’03, a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, the chapter, along with help from several Cornell sororities, hopes to raise about $5,000 selling Charms Blow Pops in its annual nationwide fundraiser.

Last year, the fraternity raised $4,000. Traditionally, the proceeds are donated to the Center for Crime Victim and Sexual Assault Services and the Volunteer Cayuga Heights Fire Department, but the members said they thought that their efforts would be needed in the disaster relief efforts.

The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and the Kappa Delta sorority also held their annual blood drive yesterday. Heather Petersen ’02, vice president for public relations for the Kappa Delta sorority said that 100 people signed up to give blood and that the Red Cross personnel asked them not to permit walk-ins. In all, 700 people attempted to make appointments yesterday.

Next week, several fraternities, coordinated by the Sigma Chi Delta fraternity, will sell pins with yellow ribbons for a suggested donation of $1. Yellow ribbons show support for United States armed forces. The names of the fraternities involved in this particular fundraiser were not available at the time of print.

The members of the Greek system’s councils said they have been very pleased with the success of the various fundraising efforts and other projects directed toward the relief effort.

“The Greek System has shown time and again that it is the leader in community service on campus. Greeks always step up to a task, and volunteer to serve, when there is someone in need, or work to be done in the community,” said Conn.

Archived article by Seth Harris