Alpha Gamma Donates to Xi Brother’s Cause, Holds Virtual Awards Ceremony

Alpha Gamma at the University of Mississippi is keeping busy during the pandemic, despite having to operate everything remotely. The transition to all-virtual was an abrupt end to a promising semester, but the men of Chi Psi at Ole Miss were determined to spend the money allocated for philanthropy in a positive way, and do something nice for their graduating seniors.

Making a Difference

The Alpha had money to burn in their philanthropy budget and nowhere to spend it. Though Alpha Gamma would typically donate to a local organization in Oxford, MS, they decided it was more appropriate to go in a different direction with the money. So, when they saw our very first blog on Dominic Dell Antonia, Ξ ’21, and his 3D printing business, the issue was settled.

“We donated about $1,000 to Br. Dell Antonia,” says Alpha Gamma #1 Thomas Lee, ’20. “A lot of Brothers wanted to make a difference, so we decided to donate money for supplies to him.”

According to Lee, two of their advisors (Hunter Shirley, Γ ’17, and Nick Warrick, Γ ’16) brought it up on an Executive Council call. That was decided to be the best way to make the biggest impact in this situation and, when polled, the Gamma Brothers were in favor of the decision.

Br. Dell Antonia blew past his initial fundraising goal and had produced more than 5,000 face masks by the end of April, sending them to places as far away from New Jersey (where he is based) as Arizona! A good portion of that can be traced back to Gamma’s generous donation to his work.

Sending Off Seniors

Lee and his Brothers also wanted to find a way to honor the Alpha’s graduating seniors, especially as their normal celebrations had to be canceled in the wake of the pandemic. They ended up getting about 40 people on a Zoom call to present awards and host a formal, virtual ceremony.

Dunnchadn Strnad, Γ ’21, emceed the event and each member of the Executive Council presented an award. Actives, alumni, and the Chi Psi maiden were awarded, and the graduating seniors were congratulated. The efforts don’t end there, however. Lee says the EC is working on keeping the Alpha close during this situation by hosting regular calls and showing their love with snail mail.

“The Executive Council is sending care packages to Brothers with t-shirts we ordered but never got to use,” says Lee. “They will get some fun Chi Psi merchandise in there. And seniors will still get their Senior gifts, of course!”

Staying Connected

Though it’s tough to keep things “business as usual” in the virtual environment, Alpha Gamma is finding ways to make it work. They are doing weekly check-ups on Zoom, as well as game nights, happy hours, and more that Lee expects to see continue through the summer.

“That’s not something we’d regularly do before the pandemic,” Lee says. “We’ve been a lot more organically connected than we were before. We were separated so abruptly, and guys are constantly starting calls or group chats now.”

For most of the Gamma Brothers, it’s just been nice to have some sort of check-in with each other each week, no matter the format. Lee says the first few calls were really important for the group to see how everyone was doing and how they could support each other.

“The first time we met it was for almost three hours,” he says. “I think it helped open a lot of people’s eyes to realize this is a big issue. Everyone had their own pandemic story to share.”

The next order of business for the Alpha is to gear up for summer recruitment. They’re going to do everything virtually through the website and social media, which is a new tactic, but a necessary one right now.

“It’s different, but exciting,” says Lee. “Doing everything virtually should be interesting, to say the least.”

Rho Delta running the philanthropy show at Miami with Quaranstream

Alpha Rho Delta at the University of Miami is the brains behind a school-wide philanthropy initiative called Quaranstream. The men of Rho Delta came up with an ambitious plan to raise money for the local Oxford, OH community through a 9-hour livestream event. Before they knew it, the school’s Tri-Council (IFC, Panhellenic, and NPHC) were on board, and it blew up.

According to Rho Delta #2 Ayushman Dey, ’21, the origins of the project may be in their Alpha, but they needed the Tri-Council’s support to make it big. Tapping into their resources and connections was a huge step in maximizing the potential of the event.

“When the pandemic started, we knew we wanted to do something,” says Dey. “We wanted the Greek community to come together and raise money for local businesses in Oxford.”

The Quaranstream event is happening this Sunday, May 31st. With parts of Ohio opening back up, getting their operations back on track is a priority for the local businesses, so Dey and his Brothers wanted to give them enough time to plan for the livestream, too.

The Alpha Rho Delta Brothers at Thanksgiving.

The details of the event include: 9 hours of live time slots, 15 minutes apiece, each owned by a school organization or a participating business. To receive a portion of the funds raised, the local businesses must either claim a time slot on the stream, provide prizes or incentives, or agree to market the event through their own channels.

“We felt it would be more impactful if businesses who wanted some of the proceeds had to participate,” says Dey. “And, really, the livestream is free marketing for the businesses. They can use those 15 minutes to show off whatever new merchandise, food items, etc. they may have. We want them to run with it and do whatever they feel comfortable with, because there will be a wide range of businesses participating that all market themselves differently.”

The stream is set up on a Twitch channel, which the Alpha’s Philanthropy Chair, Christian Carr, ’23, helped set up. He started his own non-profit (Chef Santa) in high school, and dealt with some web developers that he reached out to help create the Quaranstream Twitch and website.

Anybody watching the stream can donate to the total, both directly during the broadcast, and for up to a week afterwards on the event website. Every dollar donated will go directly to Oxford businesses, and will be split evenly among the participants. Though Rho Delta has not determined an internal fundraising goal yet, they have high expectations.

“We’ll come up with a realistic number before the livestream happens,” says Dey. “We’ve been in touch with the Oxford Chamber of Commerce and some other organizations on campus. Once we know exactly who’s involved, we’ll be able to set a goal.”

One benefit to organizations joining in (whether Greek or not), is that it’s essentially a free recruitment tool. Any fraternity, for example, could spend the 15 minutes on creatively pitching viewers – some of whom may be current or incoming Miami students – on joining their organization. And whichever organization raises the most money in their time slot will receive a prize from Chi Psi and the Tri-Council.

“Philanthropy is a big part of my position at Rho Delta, and I knew once classes ended, we could do something big for the community,” says Dey. “It had to be virtual since we can’t gather in the same place, and with how much local businesses are struggling, it was an easy choice.”

According to Dey, there was a piece in a local newspaper that mentioned 70-80 percent of the population in Oxford is the student body. So, taking that business away for two months or more might cause a lot of businesses to close or furlough employees. That’s the thought that really sparked Dey and Rho Delta to get their plan rolling.

“Between myself, our #1 Kieran Davidson (’21), our Professional Development Chair Will Murray (’22), and Christian, we wanted to make this really big,” says Dey. “We wanted it to be something that outright helps local businesses, but also puts a good light on the Greek community. To show people that, despite sometimes getting a bad rep, we can come together and do something good.”

Dey says the Rho Delta Brothers were immediately supportive of the idea and he’s been getting constant texts from some of them about other ways to add to the philanthropy. He’s quick to share credit for the plan with his fellow Chi Psis and Miami students.

“Will holds positions in lots of organizations and has a lot of background with marketing internships, so he has a great way of putting things on paper and making people want to join,” says Dey. “Kieran is born leader. There are lots of leaders on campus coming together for a good cause.”

Despite the difficulty in organizing such a massive project remotely, Dey is excited about the event and thinks it will be a huge boon to the Miami community that he and so many others call “a home away from home.”

“Those restaurants, bars, and other businesses are what makes Oxford home for us,” says Dey. “The least we can do is try to help out. These are bad circumstances, but it is giving us all a way to come together and show we can do something better, even from a distance. It proves that Miami goes beyond just being Greek. We put the community ahead of ourselves, and this is a good way for everyone to be able to see that.”

To watch the Quaranstream, click the link. To follow along with Alpha Rho Delta on their Instagram for updates, follow @chipsirhodelta. To donate, join the livestream on the specified date. You can also give through the website for up to a week after the livestream ends.

Alpha Pi challenging themselves to support healthcare workers with fundraiser

The gentlemen of Alpha Pi at Union College wanted to create a virtual fundraiser that would be a little different from the rest. They also wanted to support a group of people they felt uniquely qualified for philanthropy during this pandemic. The former was tricky to work out. The latter? Easy.

“A lot of our members and our general student population at Union are from the New York area or surrounding states,” says #1 Giannis Valoumas, ’21. “So, even if they’re not directly affected by the circumstances, they are seeing the effects of it firsthand. That was a big part of our motivation for raising money for nurses.”

The Alpha wanted to support healthcare workers on the front lines of COVID-19, so they’re raising money for the American Nurses Association (ANA). Being the founding Alpha of Chi Psi in 1841 (Founders’ Day and Day of Giving is coming up soon – May 20th!), the men of Pi chose a goal of $1,841, naturally.

“That was something we went back and forth on, but someone threw it out in the group chat and everyone liked it,” says Valoumas. “It’s a good number both in the sense of the importance for our Alpha and Chi Psi, but in terms of how much it is! Even if we raise more money than that, we’ll keep going.”

From a planning standpoint, it was a little bit difficult for the Alpha to determine the best ways to market and advertise the effort. With everyone at their respective homes and a larger membership in the Alpha than many, communication has been a little more difficult and feedback more inconsistent. However, Valoumas and his Executive Board got things rolling and the rest of the Alpha jumped on board once the philanthropy started taking shape.

“We wanted to do a philanthropy event before we went remote,” says Valoumas. “The conversation started before the end of winter term, but we added in the idea of doing challenges later on.”

Valoumas volunteered himself for the first challenge, which required him to walk barefoot on a pile of LEGO’s once they reached the $50 threshold. They are sharing videos of the Brothers completing each challenge on their Instagram story (@alphapichipsi). By the looks of the first Instagram challenge video, Valoumas and his Brothers will really be earning these donations.

Other challenges might include things like “pie a Chi Psi,” a food-eating competition, dying a Brother’s hair, and more. As Valoumas tells it, they wanted to do some traditional challenges, while mixing in more unique, fun ones, too.

“The idea actually came from a Brother who had done something similar for a fundraiser in high school,” he says. “We have this target goal in mind, but want to motivate people to give with some crazier challenges.”

A few Alpha Pi Brothers enjoying a day at the races.

At the time of publication, Alpha Pi had raised just over $150, though their philanthropy just went live. They are also accepting donations at their Alpha Venmo account (@chipsialphapi17), which will go toward the final total. With about a month to go in the term, the men of Chi Psi at Union College are hoping to hit and exceed their $1,841 goal – every penny of which will go to the ANA.

“We have a platform that is important to use,” says Valoumas. “This cause is relevant to our current situation, and it pays respect to our healthcare workers. We have Brothers who have been personally affected by the pandemic, so doing something for nurses is exactly what we should be doing.”

To donate to the Alpha Pi fundraiser, visit their CrowdChange page. You can also send them donations via Venmo. Every penny goes to the ANA. You can follow their progress and see challenges on Instagram.

Alpha Omega Delta helping local restaurant feed the community

Alpha Omega Delta at George Mason University is the latest Alpha to try its hand at a virtual fundraiser. They are raising money with an Instagram campaign for 29 Diner, which is a local restaurant that has set up a community kitchen in the Fairfax, VA area.

29 Diner is setting up a kitchen where families and first responders can receive free, non-perishable food items,” says Philanthropy Chairman Tristan Plant, ΩΔ ’23. “We’re partnering with the restaurant to help feed those families. You can see what we’re doing on our Instagram.”

According to Plant, 29 Diner has already fed 14 area fire stations and is providing 400-600 meals per day to families in the Fairfax community. But, the restaurant wants to help even more, and Omega Delta is trying to get them closer to their goal with the virtual fundraiser.

“Many of us have enjoyed a meal at the diner, oftentimes with other Brothers,” says Plant. “So, while this establishment is helping our neighbors, we want to do our part to give back to the community and help them reach their goal.”

As of May 1, 29 Diner had raised nearly $15,000 of a $25,000 goal. They hope to serve more than 15,000 meals to families and need more help to get them across the finish line. The men of Omega Delta jumped in when they heard about it, using CrowdChange and Venmo to solicit donations on the restaurant’s behalf.

The Alpha has held a series of social media promotions and online donation forums to incentivize friends, family, alumni, and Brothers to give to the cause. Each meal costs about $7, so 29 Diner is giving out $70 worth of food to each family each day. They specifically targeted families in need at a local high school, and have also been taking a food truck to area fire stations.

By setting up a detailed virtual philanthropy plan for internal use in the Alpha, the men of Omega Delta have created a strong communications and social media strategy. They have produced eye-catching graphics for Instagram and continue to abide by a schedule for posting, collecting donations, and providing fundraising updates.

So far, their hard work is paying off! Alpha Omega Delta has raised more than $700 (as of Thursday, May 7) of a $1,000 goal. They have even offered to match up to $100 from their Spring 2020 budget to promote the work 29 Diner is doing. Each donation takes them one step closer to feeding Fairfax (#FeedFFX on Instagram!) during this difficult time.

“We really wanted to do something for the community, and the opportunity to partner with one of our favorite local restaurants was perfect,” says Plant. “We are really excited to hit that threshold and hopefully exceed it!”

To give to the Alpha Omega Delta before the deadline on Sunday, May 10, check out their Instagram here. You can Venmo the Alpha directly at @Stephen-Taglieri-2. To give directly to the restaurant’s campaign, visit their webpage. You can also donate through the Alpha’s CrowdChange page.

Kappa Delta PNMs make a difference through social media

For Camden Scheller, KΔ ’23, the decision to join Chi Psi was, as he says, “one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” As a military child, Scheller rarely stayed in one place for long (he estimates he’s moved at least 11 times). Therefore, he wasn’t offered the opportunity to form tight bonds with his childhood friends before picking up and moving again.

Craving that fellowship, he checked out Chi Psi when a couple of friends in a separate club turned out to be Brothers of Alpha Kappa Delta. Scheller grew close to them and was genuinely interested in learning more about the Fraternity those guys were representing. A few months later, he was an official Potential New Member (PNM) of Chi Psi at Yale University.

Though Scheller has had to wait for his postponed initiation, he grew close with a number of his fellow PNMs. When one of them texted him recently asking for his help with a social media fundraising initiative, his answer was easy: “of course.” That person had just found out that his mother was diagnosed with COVID-19, and wanted to do something to raise awareness and money for organizations fighting the pandemic.

“He basically sent me a text saying, “Brother, I know you’re a runner, would you keep this trend going if I tag you in it?” says Scheller. “We took the idea to the Alpha and other PNMs and tagged as many Brothers as we could.”

The trend is a “Run 5, Donate 5, Nominate 5” campaign that has blown up on Instagram during the pandemic. It asks participants to run a 5K (about 3 miles), donate $5 to charity, and tag 5 more potential participants. Scheller, who is an avid runner anyway, realized this was the perfect way to get outside, do something fun and healthy, AND raise money for a good cause within the Alpha, especially for his friend’s family.

“We asked who was interested in participating, and got a ton of responses,” says Scheller. “I think about 20 of the Brothers did it, and then probably 10 to 15 PNMs took part, too. If they all raised $5, that’s at least $150 donated.”

The fellow PNM’s family lives in Cyprus and was spending as much time together as they could, while quarantining away from his mother, who has since fully recovered. When he reached out Scheller for help, there was no hesitation.

“He came to me and said, “this is important,”” says Scheller. “It was great checking Instagram and constantly seeing other Brothers post. It was awesome, and really brought us together in a time of need.”

Everyone who took part was asked to donate their $5 to a cause they were passionate about, though the link to the Cyprus foundation was also shared in the posts. The idea caught fire in the Alpha as Brother after Brother tagged and challenged each other to take part. For a while, some were even posting their times in group chats and daring the rest to beat their times. Scheller was thrilled to see the level of participation.

“In a situation where you’re around so many excellent gentlemen, it really extrapolates it and pushes your own attitude to a new level,” says Scheller.

To donate to the Be A Hero Foundation in Cyprus, follow this link. To take part in your own Run 5, Donate 5, Nominate 5 challenge, search that term on Instagram!