TTU sororities and fraternities make Christmas bright with holiday service projects

Not all of Santa’s elves have pointy ears and wear bells on their shoes.

Some are members of Tennessee Tech University’s sororities and fraternities who’ve organized charitable community activities for the holidays. Nearly 10 community projects have been organized this year by some of the campus’s 21 sororities and fraternities.

“From a national perspective, service learning is an objective for these organizations, so philanthropic and community service projects fulfill that requirement — but we hope that what the members of our Greek organizations learn from these experiences transcends the requirement,” said Katie Williams, coordinator of Greek Life and University Programming at TTU.

“Community service projects like these are great ways to learn the value of helping people, and hopefully our sorority and fraternity members will take that lesson with them when they leave here and move on to the next phase of their lives,” she said.

The community service projects give sororities and fraternities opportunities to create positive impressions among people in the community who might never otherwise interact with members of such organizations.

Most important, however, was the support provided for those in need — particularly during the holiday time.

TTU sororities and fraternities who participated in holiday community service projects include:

• Alpha Delta Pi sorority organized a Toys for Tots drive;

• Delta Gamma sorority and Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity adopted four angel tree children and held a mixer after Thanksgiving to wrap presents;

• Kappa Delta sorority conducted a Dove product and donation drive for the local Genesis House women’s shelter;

The drive corresponds with the national Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, in which Dove and Kappa Delta partner in the global effort intended to serve as a starting point for societal change and act as a catalyst for widening the definition and discussion of beauty.

• Phi Mu sorority also organized a Toys for Tots drive;

• Delta Sigma Theta, a historically black sorority, held a canned food drive for the Cookeville Rescue Mission;

• Alpha Kappa Alpha, a historically black sorority, donated a Thanksgiving basket to a deserving family selected by the Department of Children’s Services;

• Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity made a significant donation of items to Goodwill;

• Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity members prepared more than 600 Thanksgiving meals for Cookeville, Knoxville and Nashville Rescue Missions as part of their “Thanksgiving on the Mayflower” event, named for the Mayflower freight trailer from which they serve the meals in Cookeville; and

• Panhellenic Council and Junior (Freshman) Panhellenic, the governing organization for sororities, donated 250 gift bags containing a toothbrush, comb, candy, play dough, pencil, eraser and candy cane to the Relative Caregiver Program for its annual children’s Christmas party.

TTU has approximately 800 students who are active in sororities and fraternities. Williams estimates that about half were involved in organizing this year’s holiday service projects.

“We do lots of community and philanthropic work and raise money throughout the year that engages most of our membership,” she added.

“Community service projects are usually really fun, and they’re especially important during the holidays,” said Sara Pierce, a TTU graduate student and Kappa Delta alumna. “They help keep things in perspective and make you realize that life’s not about stuff — it’s about people and relationships.”