Great Charity Events from Fraternities and Sororities

Today’s guest post is from Alvina Lopez.

A hallmark of all university Panhellenic groups is community service and charity. Every year, thousands of member students across the United States commit their time to furthering hundreds of different causes. Whether big or small, these charity and volunteer programs always make a positive impact in the lives of others and are what make Greek life so vital for a college town and its surrounding area.

Every event is significant in its purpose and deserves to be highlighted. Alas, there are so many, it would be impossible to ever cover them all, so here are three great examples to exemplify what every Panhellenic chapter strives for every school year.

THON at Penn State

THON is the shorthand nickname for The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon. This annual charity event is the “largest student-run philanthropy” in the nation and has raised millions of dollars over the years for children’s cancer research and support (over seven million dollars was raised in 2010 alone).Although the charity works a full year to raise funds, the event is capped off every February with a two day, no sitting, no sleeping dance marathon. Over the years, interest in the cause has grown exponentially, and many other universities have mirrored similar dance marathon charity events from Penn State’s.

Panhellenic 5K and Ghouls, Goblins and Greeks at the University of Florida

Throughout the year, the Panhellenic Council at the University of Florida hosts several fundraisers and supply drives for the Peaceful Paths Domestic Abuse Network of Gainesville. In addition to these events, multiple chapters also take part in an annual 5K walk/run to further benefit the domestic abuse cause, as well as other local charity causes. Ghouls, Goblins and Greeks is another event hosted every Halloween that provides a safe trick-or-treating environment for local families. All chapters on Sorority Row decorate their houses and participate in the event.

Greek Sing at the University of Kentucky

Greek Sing is an annual fundraising event at the University of Kentucky that raises funds for the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Kentucky, a charity that helps grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening medical conditions. It is essentially a talent show, featuring the talent of all UK sororities and fraternities. Although tickets are sold to raise money, chapters also work to raise additional funds leading up to the show. Over $124,000 was raised at the 2011 Greek Sing event, and participants hope to break that record at next year’s event.

A freelance writer and blogging extraordinaire for seven years, Alvina Lopez now mainly contributes her expertise about online colleges to accreditedonlinecolleges.com. Her ultimate goal is to help future students discover their potential by enrolling in the right program for them. She also writes about trends in education, personal finance and sustainable living. She loves getting feedback from her readers at alvina.lopez@gmail.com.

How to Get Children Involved in Volunteering

Today’s post is a guest article from Kate Croston.

No matter how young or old you are, volunteering is one of the single most rewarding and impacting experiences you can have. Helping those who are less fortunate than us not only puts our own blessings in perspective, making us more appreciative of the lives we’ve been fortunate enough to have, but it also is very emotionally gratifying as well, building us into stronger and more compassionate people. This is why it’s so important to help our kids understand the importance of volunteering early on. You might meet some initial resistance with kids volunteering, as most would rather be out playing with their friends; however, with the right approach you’ll have them engaged in no time.

1)      Volunteer together – Instead of sending your children off on their own to volunteer with different organizations, make it a family affair. They’ll be less resistant to attending this way and it will help create a bond between your family as you all grow both individually and together.

2)     Let them pick a cause they are interested in – Having your kids pick the cause they want to volunteer for automatically makes them more engaged in the activity, and they’ll benefit the most from doing something with which they personally identify. If they have a passion for animals then try volunteering at the local animal shelter. If they love being around elderly people then take them to the nursing home. There are so many organizations out there that are always looking for volunteers that you’re sure to find the right match in no time.

3)      Volunteer regularly – Make volunteering a habit early on in their lives. The more it seems like a normal, everyday activity, the more likely they are to stick with it throughout the years instead of only going once or twice before losing interest.

4)      Start small – You don’t have to have them jump headfirst into 20 hours a week of volunteering. Instead have them do a Christmas shoebox that you drop off for the less fortunate children one year, then add on a more intensive volunteering project, and then something else after that… Starting small makes it easier to transition slowly into bigger projects.

5)      Make it enjoyable, not overwhelming – Volunteering should be something that your children look forward to doing, so don’t obligate them to so many different volunteer organizations that they become overwhelmed and burned out. Moderation is key in everything, and volunteering is no different.

There really are no drawbacks when it comes to volunteering. Not only will you and your kids be helping others, but you’ll also be helping yourselves. It’s the perfect balance where each side comes out ahead.

Kate Croston is a freelance writer, holds a bachelors degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. She writes guest posts for different sites and loves contributing on internet service related topics. Questions or comments can be sent to:  katecroston.croston09 @ gmail.com.

“The Power of Giving”

by Charles McWilliams

“In order to get something, you first need to give” –Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad

Many successful businessmen and entrepreneurs practice this basic property of reciprocity. Those who we consider ‘rich’ are often capable of giving much more than those we may consider ‘poor’ and I’m not referring to monetary assets by any means. Those who are ‘rich’ are capable of giving value to others, and this is precisely why they tend to receive so much. Yet, one more important principle works imperatively with the basic properties of reciprocation, especially when applied to human interaction: one must give to give, instead of giving to receive.

When Robert Kiyosaki feels needy or short of something he gives what he wants first so that it will come back in buckets. This is true of money, a smile, love and friendship.

Robert Kiyosaki is an American investor, businessman, self-help author and motivational speaker. Kiyosaki is best known for his Rich Dad, Poor Dad series of motivational books and other material published under the Rich Dad brand.

A Good Idea Indeed

By Andrea Xu, Marketing Intern/Executive Assistant to the CEO 

In our busy society, it is so easy to forget how far a small, random act of kindness can go. In an age where everyone is glued to his or her iPhones, emails, and personal planners, we have become so absorbed in our own bubbles that sometimes we forget that we are still surrounded in a community, a community where issues such as homelessness are still prevalent.

And this is where A Good Idea steps in. A Good Idea encourages positive social change that connects people with others who want to help alleviate poverty and homelessness in their local communities. A Good Idea creates solutions through its team of experts and volunteers, using connections through service, education, and technology in order to help accomplish its goals.

Although San Francisco is the home base for A Good Idea, this organization is starting to expand and can now be found in New Jersey. Each year A Good Idea hosts numerous creative events that help fight against poverty and homelessness such as a Good Day in San Francisco, where over 100 volunteers help serve approximately 75 homeless individuals in the community, offering an array of services such as clothing, massages, and a gourmet meal.

What I really love about A Good Idea is its emphasis on compassion and empathy. While it is great that the organization hosts a variety of large-scale events, it does not forget the power of a simple act of kindness to a random stranger.

So, get reconnected with your community. Participate in A Call to Arms on August 18th from 7-9 PM to help combat homelessness. Or, go beyond your neighborhood and connect with the world. UniversalGivingTM offers hundreds of opportunities to donate or volunteer globally; $25 can help educate a girl in Sierra Leone, or you can spend 2 weeks in Cusco, Peru to work with impoverished children in rural households. Just get connected.

Philanthropy with a Fashionable Twist

By Andrea Xu, Marketing Intern/Executive Assistant to the CEO

As with the rest of the UnivesalGiving team, I love to give back, and have been taught the power of community involvement from an early age. One thing that really drew me to UniversalGiving was the fact that all of these nonprofit organizations that you can volunteer or donate to are top, legitimate organizations from all over the world.

Just like UniversalGiving, SelflessTee has shown a creative yet simple way to give back. Started by Danny B., one of the founders of SelfessTee, Danny raised over $11,000 from selling t-shirts, using the funds to provide 1,000 mosquito nets to families in Kenya. From that project, SelflessTee exploded into a successful organization that now serves to promote other nonprofit organizations and the great work they do.

The process is simple: a nonprofit is featured on SelflessTee’s website for two weeks, and a designer will help create a t-shirt design that promotes the nonprofit organization. Once 100 shirts are pre-sold, the shirts are ready to be printed! Moreover, SelflessTee will donate one quarter of its profits AND time to that specific organization, bringing back footage so individuals can see exactly how they are donating their time. It is a great way to give back and to serve as an inspiration for others to give back as well!

SelflessTee recently received a $50,000 grant from Pepsi and are now able to help domestic causes, whether it be supporting the Boys and Girls club or providing lunches for children who would otherwise go without. SelflessTee is a great organization that combines giving with a fashionable twist; definitely check them out and order a shirt!

If you are looking for other ways to donate or volunteer, check out UniversalGiving’s website.

  • $15 can provide one month’s supply of emergency supplies to one person in Africa.
  • Spend the summer or winter in Thailand to help educate men about HIV/AIDS.

Kickstarter: A Philanthropist’s Dream

Today’s post is from guest blogger Raine Parker.

As the internet has expanded, people have adapted it to many different uses in order to take advantage of its ability to quickly tap into the power that comes from gathering together groups of people. Groupon is perhaps the greatest example of this recent trend, as it uses organized people to leverage buying power into good deals.

Fortunately, philanthropists have also taken advantage of the internet’s power in order to help leverage their aid in new and impressive ways. Just as Groupon users can combine their collective power in order to get good deals, so too can philanthropists, now that people have created philanthropy sites like Kickstarter.

Kickstarter is, like many other online sites of its kind, a project devoted to allowing those interested in supporting causes and projects do so through the internet; however, Kickstarter only focuses on projects within the arts, such as publishing, film, visual arts, sculpture, and other kinds of projects. On Kickstarter’s front page you can see a variety of featured projects. They can vary greatly from intensely personal projects, such as helping a musician get some money to rent a recording studio, to projects for social change, such as The Understanding Campaign, which gained funding successfully with a mission to use publishing in order to help create awareness of Arabic culture in the West. Because of this wide variety, philanthropists have much to choose from when seeking out projects to support; simply search the site based on what sorts of art interests you the most.

So how does Kickstarter work? Well, it’s very simple. Artists can register on the site and then create a page for their project, on which they can describe their goals and list how much money they’d like to receive. When a philanthropist finds a project to support, he or she can pledge however much money towards the project. Once you pledge, you receive updates regarding whether or not the project was funded, and if it was, what sorts of success the artist has had after receiving the money. In a way, Kickstarter can serve as a base for the project’s entire undertaking.

As for how the giving works on Kickstarter, it is risk-free. In fact, that’s the beauty about Kickstarter: if the project meets its pledge goal by the deadline, then all of the money gets disbursed. But, if for some reason the project does not make its goal by the deadline, then the people who have already pledged do not lose any more. The system doesn’t charge their accounts or credit cards. This system ultimately makes supporting causes risk-free, which further encourages selfless giving. Rather than worrying about how you might lose your five dollars if the project doesn’t get enough funding, you can rest assured that you’ll get your money back if it doesn’t reach its pledge goal.

Kickstarter is a site that focuses heavily on the arts community, and because of this, the opportunities for philanthropy are limited to a certain realm. But that doesn’t mean many of the projects are not socially conscious or irrelevant. As a result, Kickstarter could be a unique and new way for philanthropists to change the world.

This guest contribution was submitted by Raine Parker, who specializes in writing about online accounting degree.  Questions and comments can be sent to: raine.parker6@gmail.com.

Little Feet takes Big Kick for Change

By Karis Ingram

I wasn’t always the most athletic kid growing up, but I did love to play. I remember not being able to wait for break in school, so that I could play handball, kickball or double dutch. Once the recess bell rang, I would race my friends to the playground to get first dibs on a ball. I lived for playing and having fun – it was my life. Playing sports and games helped me improve my health habits, and helped me develop socially, physically, and mentally. I can’t imagine what my childhood would have been like if I had to sit in a classroom all day long without being able to play.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where some kids don’t have this outlet. Many kids around the world do not have access to clean, safe playgrounds or the equipment necessary to play the games that I so looked forward to as a child. Because of this, too many children are not getting the proper exercise and play necessary for child development.

Fortunately, there are ordinary people, like you and me, who seek to change this. Like Trevor Slavick, founder of Little Feet Foundation, is working to create opportunities for kids around the world to have access to soccer balls and healthy play programs. Using the One for One business model, Little Feet Sports matches your purchase of a soccer ball by sending an additional ball to a child in need. For example, if I buy a soccer to try to become the next Mia Hamm (highly unlikely!), Little Feet will send a ball to an underprivileged child in need around the world.

Talk about giving back! This is such an amazing idea, why didn’t I think of it first?

In its first few years, Little Feet Foundation has already donated soccer balls to over 20 countries. They’ve also recently branched out from an online store and have added the sale of Little Feet soccer balls at the national chain store, Sports Chalet. You can now pick up a life changing soccer ball at a California Sport Chalet near you!

Aside from their work providing soccer balls, and developing sustainable soccer programs, Little Feet is also seeking to help local economies worldwide. With the discovery that coffee farmers are only paid less than a penny from a $2 cup of coffee, Little Feet created a unique and sustainable way to help the kids and local farmers. If you want to help Little Feet reach their goal of building 8 soccer fields and soccer programs by 2014, you can do so by purchasing Little Feet Coffee. Buying Little Feet coffee will help local farmers receive better prices for their hard work, while also funding soccer programs and fields!

By purchasing a Little Feet Soccer Ball or Little Feet Coffee, you can do your part too and help kids in need race their friends to their local soccer field in hopes of becoming the next David Beckham. Check out Little Feet’s website and buy a ball for a friend, one for yourself, or your whole family!