04/18/2012 09:26 am ET Updated Jun 18, 2012

Greek Life at St. John's University

The first thought that comes to mind when it comes to Greek life is one word: partying. But what many people don't know is that philanthropy is a crucial part of being in a fraternity or a sorority. At St. John's, Pi Kappa Phi and Gamma Phi Beta are two Greek organizations that hold their own annual, successful fundraising event.

Pi Kappa Phi is actively involved with their philanthropy through PUSH America and one of the nation-wide fundraisers "Journey of Hope." Nationally, they send one brother to participate in this bike ride which starts in San Francisco, California and Seattle, Washington and ends in Washington D.C.

Locally, the St. John's chapter of Pi Kappa Phi, a fraternity within the Interfraternity Council, holds their own fundraising event in order to receive donations to send to PUSH America.
PUSH America is a non-profit organization that helps people with severe disabilities and was founded in 1977 as the national philanthropy of the fraternity. They have been working to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

President Brett Bowers explained the local fundraiser held at St. John's. "It's where we ride bikes in the D'Angelo Center for usually 12 hours straight and there's always somebody pedaling at all times," he said.

Member John Guittard shared what philanthropy and community service means to him. "Giving back means a lot of different things," Guittard said. "Whether it's raising money for charities, helping clean up a neighborhood or spending time mentoring kids, it all helps and makes a difference." "When you look at everything you have, giving back to those who don't, only makes sense," he expressed.

Pi Kappa Phi members Chris Howley, Randy Ledoux shared their experiences as participants in the local fundraiser at the University.

Howley described his personal thoughts on the charity in addition to his experience. "I really like knowing what I was doing was going to something productive and useful," he said. "It may have been a long event, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., but fact that all the money goes to help handicapped people is refreshing."

Ledoux described his participation as very memorable and felt that despite the physical strain it was worthwhile to put his energy into. "The experience was a good one; it's nice to raise money for something that is not really noticed in society like cancer, since PUSH raises money for people with disabilities," he said. "It's tiring from being on the bikes for an extended amount of time but good to know what some of the brother throughout the country go through to raise money for this cause."

Gamma Phi Beta is an active participant in Campfire USA, their national philanthropy. Campfire USA is a youth development organization and was founded in 1910 and is now serving thousands of boys and girls globally. Their mission is to build caring, confident youth, and future leaders.

The Pan-Hellenic sorority holds an annual fundraising event called Crescent Classic, and all proceeds go to Campfire USA. Although each chapter has their own theme, the St. John's chapter's theme is "Wing Fling," where the sorority sells chips, baked goods, chicken wings, and soda.

Former Crescent Classic chair Kerry Sullivan expressed her passion and thoughts on supporting Campfire USA with her sisters. "I think it's such a worthy and appropriate cause for our sisterhood," she said. "It also gives us an opportunity to work together as sisters to make a positive difference, and to me, that's what sorority life is really about."

Gamma Phi Beta members Mikayla Butters and Erin Kennedy expressed their thoughts on the turnout of the event in addition to their personal opinions on doing it for Campfire USA.
Kennedy shared the enthusiasm she had while participating in Crescent Classic and also shared her feelings on being able to do this for a charity she's passionate about. "Crescent Classic went above and beyond my expectations," she expressed. "It was exhilarating to see that after just one hour we had completely sold out of wings!" Kennedy added. "It was great to know that we were all enjoying ourselves while raising money to send young girls to a camp that will provide the opportunity for them to become the highest type of women."

"Being in [a sorority] is much more than people think it is. It's about finding who you truly are, and finding your voice," Sophia Markowska, a sophomore and Gamma Phi Beta member said. "I've learned how to become a leader, which is something I never was before. It's about helping your community through service. It truly does make you a better person," she said.

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