There are a total of six Greek Life organizations at Union University: Zeta Tau Alpha, Kappa Delta, Chi Omega, Alpha Tau Omega, Lambda Chi Alpha and Sigma Alpha Epsilon. While their main purpose is to create community and fellowship between students involved in Greek Life, they also support various philanthropies.
Throughout the year each fraternity and sorority hosts multiple fundraisers that are open to students, faculty and even the Jackson community.
“Especially here at Union, we focus on living out the mission of Christ, which is a mission of loving God and loving others through service and humility,” said junior philosophy and sociology major, Jonathan Greer, when asked about his fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon. “Whether that be through community service or philanthropy participation, my brothers and I will forever be thankful for the opportunities Greek life has afforded us to live out that mission.”
The philanthropy of Sigma Alpha Epsilon in years past has been the Children’s Miracle Network. However, this year they are transitioning to a local cause, The Star Center.
“Many groups do not realize that money raised is often lost through layers of bureaucracy, even in well meaning organizations,” Greer said. “This mindset played a factor in our recent decision to move our major philanthropy from something at a national level to a local organization.”
Greek Life at Union University is unique from other universities because of its Christ-like approach to philanthropy.
“While raising money is an important part of what we do as a chapter, it is not the focus of our service efforts,” said junior cell and molecular biology major, Austin Rogers, a member of Lambda Chi Alpha. Lambda supports Feeding America, Relay for Life, and RIFA.
They also coordinate an annual corn hole tournament and a BBQ sale to fundraise for Relay for Life.
“Through philanthropy and community service, we strive to be the hands and feet of Christ to those around us. Our service efforts are centered around Matthew 25:40 as brothers are challenged to show the love of Christ to the ‘least of these’.”
For some organizations, passion for philanthropy comes from a debt of gratitude.
“Our philanthropy is something we take very personally. One of our brothers was treated at St. Jude and, as such, we have a very personal connection to that hospital,” said sophomore graphic design major, Josh Kasper about his fraternity, Alpha Tau Omega. “Philanthropy is our way of showing gratitude and giving back to the community, which I would argue should be vital aspects for any Greek organization.”
Alpha Tau Omega’s philanthropy is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, but this year they also raised money for victims of the Gatlinburg wildfires with a “Change War.”
Not only are Greek Life organizations dedicated to giving money to their own causes, they also go out of their way to help out the other groups with their own.
“We, of course, love raising money for our specific philanthropies,” said Kappa Delta’s community service chair, Sallie Norman. “But we also love helping out other organizations when they are raising money for their philanthropy.”
Kappa Delta is very hands-on with their charity work. Twice a semester they invite Girl Scouts to their sorority house to spend time with them and build on the Confidence Coalition, which is a goal to instill self confidence in every girl that visits. Their other philanthropy is Prevent Child Abuse America, and they hold an annual “Shamrock Spaghetti Dinner” to raise funds.
The second organization to work with the American Cancer Society is Zeta Tau Alpha, through Making Strides. Making Strides’ purpose is to raise awareness and education of breast cancer.
“In my first year in Zeta, we have helped host and [volunteer at] so many different events in order to help raise money and awareness for our philanthropy,” said freshman special education major, Bailey Hicks, about her sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha. “We all enjoy being able to have these events that are important to so many people who have been touched by breast cancer.”
This past year, Zeta Tau Alpha has hosted a flag football tournament in the fall and a kickball tournament in the spring to raise funds towards their philanthropy.
Along with Kappa Delta, the Chi Omega sorority is very hands-on when it comes to their philanthropy. Chi Omega supports the Make-A-Wish foundation and strives to grant one wish every semester.
“Chi Omega [hosts] events such as Pancakes and Karaoke, Swishes for Wishes, and a Make-A-Wish BBQ to raise money for Make-A-Wish,” said junior psychology major, Becca Robertson.
Once enough money is raised to grant a wish, the recipient and their family members are invited to the sorority house where a wish themed surprise party is thrown for them.
“A lot of hours have been put into raising money for Make-A-Wish; hours from our entire chapter, not just a select group,” Robertson said. “The Make-A-Wish foundation is incredibly important to Chi Omega as a whole.”
The purpose of supporting a philanthropy is to help others, whether you’re coordinating fundraisers or buying tickets for BBQ.
“Greek organization[s] are able to come together with a common goal to help better the lives of other people through their philanthropy,” said Zeta Tau Alpha member, Bailey Hicks. “Our duty as Christians is to reach out to others, it not only unites the body of Christ but also draws non-believers in.”