On Friday, UNC fraternity and sorority chapter presidents participated in a meal packaging service event with nonprofit Rise Against Hunger, an international hunger relief organization headquartered in Raleigh.
Assistant Director of UNC Fraternity and Sorority Life Berengére Phillips contacted Rise Against Hunger to work with the President's Leadership Academy, consisting of fraternity and sorority chapter presidents and four governing council presidents who represent over 3,400 undergraduate students involved in Greek life at UNC.
Despite the Academy hosting an event for members every January, Phillips said this is the first year it has incorporated a service element to the event.
“Service is one thing that all of our organizations can get behind, (that) they have in common, and it's important,” Phillips said.
Phillips said she decided to work with Rise Against Hunger because she has worked with them before, and they help provide materials for the packaging of meals.
10,150 meals were packaged that will be going to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, she said.
At the event, about 50 representatives and presidents from UNC Greek life organizations participated in a competition to pack the most meals. There were multiple stations with about four fraternity or sorority representatives in an assembly line, all competing to finish their assigned meal packages first.
Phillips said this event was unique in how it combined the most important tenets of fraternity and sorority life.
“Our organizations are based on some pretty simple tenets, no matter what chapter, no matter what council,” Phillips said. “Brotherhood, sisterhood, siblinghood — those are all very important. Leadership, academics, philanthropy and service.”
UNC sophomore AJ Jackson, rush chairperson at the Beta Upsilon Chi fraternity, said the competition aspect allowed them to give back in an enjoyable way. It also encouraged bonding between fraternity and sorority leaders, he said.
“You are able to exponentially help more people and have these bigger events when you are connected with more people,” Jackson said. “And today is a great representation of how we can do that.”
He said his favorite characteristics of service projects are connecting and networking with more people while promoting a good cause, which is something he said he was able to do at the meal packaging event.
“I can say I've just grown so much as a person,” Jackson said. “I've been able to grow with other people and to see everybody else becoming these really outstanding leaders in the community and at UNC (with) all sorts of clubs, and how being in a fraternity has just improved all of our lives and togetherness.”
Ion Outterbridge, director of UNC Fraternity and Sorority Life, also said the event was all about community service and giving back while bringing all 50 chapters together.
Outterbridge said it was not only a great opportunity for students to get together after returning from break, but also what fraternities and sororities should always be about.
“There's so much negative when you hear fraternities and sororities, (and) we do so much more positive things, and that's my main focus,” Outterbridge said. “I want to make sure that we start the year off right with something positive that we’re doing.”
Phillips said the organization hopes to work with other service organizations in the future to emphasize the service and philanthropic aspects of Greek life.
“Our organizations are looking for collaboration around service, since we're talking about service, and so it's really easy to contact them,” Phillips said. “They're always looking for service opportunities, and they would be great partners.”
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