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!”
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.”