More Buddy Packs will be available for hungry school children, thanks to sororities and fraternities at William Woods University. Through a unique fundraiser, the organizations raised $2,076 for the Buddy Pack program.
This is not the first contribution the Greeks at WWU have made to the Buddy Pack program. Last year, they bought supplies for Buddy Packs and worked with prospective students to assemble more than 100 packs at WWU 101, an event for students planning to attend The Woods in the fall.
Another Buddy Pack packing session was planned for this year’s WWU 101.
Buddy Packs are backpacks filled with kid-friendly, nutritious food that students take home over the weekend or holiday periods to supplement their meals when there is not enough for them to eat at home.
After the weekend, the kids bring their empty Buddy Pack back to school to be refilled by local volunteers. The program continues week after week throughout the school year or as needed to keep the growing youngsters happy and healthy.
As a Greek Week service project, each sorority and fraternity chapter chose a “god” or “goddess” who decorated a pack and carried from Monday to Friday seeking donations for the Buddy Pack program.
The Greek gods and goddesses were Connor Pearson, a Phi Gamma Delta from Edmond, Okla.; Darus Brondel, a Pi Kappa Alpha from Jefferson City, Mo.; Alaina Leverenz, an Alpha Chi Omega from Centralia, Mo.; Katie Hodges, an Alpha Phi from San Antonio, Texas; Stephanie Behlmann, a Chi Omega from St. Paul, Mo.; and Shannon Garcia, a Delta Gamma from Los Lunas, N.M.
Lacey Sweeten, WWU director of student involvement, was excited about the money raised.
“When we thought up the challenge to raise money for the Buddy Pack program, I was expecting the fraternities and sororities to raise a few hundred dollars. I, in no way, guessed that it would go over the $2,000 mark,” Sweeten said.
“I am so proud of our chapters, Panhellenic and the gods and goddesses who worked so hard to make this happen. It just goes to show that even though we are a small fraternity and sorority community we can still make a big impact when we work together!”
The Buddy Pack program was started when an elementary school teacher discovered the reason her student cried every Friday afternoon was because he knew he had two days ahead of him with no food. In Callaway County, 2,365 (nearly 50 percent) of the public school children are on free or reduced school meals and have little or no food at home.
Travis Sappington, regional coordinator at the Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri was overjoyed at the amount of money raised. Cash donations are more valuable than food to the Food Bank, since the Food Bank can buy four times as much Buddy Pack food with $1 as the general public can.
“The reaction I had when I found out the amount was amazing, amazing, amazing! It’s amazing that [Greek life] came up with creative ideas to raise money for the buddy backpack program and Callaway County,” Sappington said.
“This Greek Week was better than any before because of the amount of money and awareness we raised for Buddy Packs,” said Alicia Delaney, an Alpha Chi Omega from St. Charles, Mo.
“We’ve never raised this kind of money as a Greek community. I think it added more meaning to Greek Week. It’s not just us getting together and doing silly games; it’s us getting together and making a difference in the community.”
Not only did the fraternities and sororities raise money for the Buddy Pack program during Greek Week, they also donated their time at the local soup kitchen and SERVE food pantry.
“As a senior, it is really exciting to see how close the Greek community is. Not only in fun, spirited events, but especially in helping out such a great cause,” said Haley Hinze, an Alpha Chi Omega from Greenville, S.C.
Jaryd Kalvans, Phi Gamma Delta president from Jefferson City, Mo., added, “Greek Week is that time of year where we, as a Greek community, can show everyone else the good that we do for the community between service events, fundraising for programs such as the Buddy Pack program and just showing our leadership not only on our campus, but in the community of Fulton, as well.”