All this week, Upper Cumberland residents will see large groups of Tennessee Tech University students out and about, helping to clean up illegal dump sites, working with children, and helping preserve area history.
TTU’s 21 fraternities and sororities are banding together to help with a variety of community service projects to see which fraternity or sorority can complete the most hours over the course of Greek Week, an annual friendly competition between the groups.
“We’re doing more to show people what being Greek is and what being Greek means to us,” said junior marketing major Kelsey Jozwik, of Hendersonville. “It’s just a couple hours of our time, but it can make such a big difference in these people’s lives and in our community.”
Members of the organizations will choose to divide their time between beautifying Jere Whitson Elementary School and cleaning up Buck Cemetery, the Cookeville community gardens and illegal dump sites in Baxter and Monterey. They will help restore a 1790s log cabin donated to Putnam County, make bookmarks with pre-K students as part of a literacy project, and assist with TTU’s Blessings in a Backpack program, which gives food for the weekend to Jackson County’s students in need.
“It’s something we get to do with not just our group members, but with all of our groups together,” said Jozwik, a member of Alpha Delta Pi and the president of TTU’s Panhellenic Council. “We’re coming together as a Greek system.”
The projects were organized with help from TTU’s Service Center, which coordinates almost all of the university’s community service efforts.
Greek Week at TTU has always included a service component to benefit national organizations. This is the first time members’ work during the week will benefit local charities and communities. The week will end with TTU’s Relay for Life, which begins at 6 p.m. Friday, April 12, as Greek organizations have traditionally participated and raised money for the American Cancer Society.
“We knew we wanted to do Greek Week differently. We wanted to make it so we’re out there, being seen, helping in the community,” said Emma Judd, a mental health counseling graduate student who works in TTU’s Greek Life Office. “All our Greek organizations have charities that they raise money for and work to benefit, but we wanted to change it up so that they were working for the Upper Cumberland.”
Between the eight projects, there are opportunities for almost 400 people to together complete more than 1,100 hours of work together. Each of the volunteer spots was expected to be filled by Monday’s registration deadline.
In addition to the community service projects, Greek Week will also include a Lip Sync competition at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, in Derryberry Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public, though in the spirit of the week, participants and attendees are asked to bring a small monetary donation or a canned food item for the on-campus food pantry.
“We’re excited to get back to our roots as service organizations and to get out in the community and across the Upper Cumberland,” said Judd, a native of Oliver Springs.