The Greek community fundraised $22,206.61 for The Jenna Kast Believe in Miracles Foundation through a variety of events during this year’s Greek Week.
Greek Week is a week-long event, where several chapters come together to compete against one another, fundraise for a certain organization and promote the Greek community. This year, the Greeks chose The Jenna Kast Believe in Miracles Foundation as their philanthropy. The foundation has a mission of helping children who are living with life-threatening diseases and conditions by giving them gifts to help spread hope and joy.
Each event held throughout the week included an entry fee, but the largest portion of the total money raised came from the “Penny Wars” event.
“Our biggest fundraiser for the week was Penny Wars,” Washington senior and Greek Week Co-Chair Erica Lagos said. “Each group that participated in the week had a different penny war bin, and, from that alone, we raised more than $12,000.”
During the event, pennies were counted as positive points, and any cash or silver coins were counted as negative points.
Lagos said she felt the most rewarding part of the fundraising process was watching the Greek community come together to raise money for the children.
“Without a doubt, being able to announce that we’ve raised more than $22,000 was phenomenal,” Lagos said. “But, being able to say that a community of just 1,200 people did it made it just so much more rewarding.”
In addition to Penny Wars, the Greek community also sold “Believe in Miracles” bracelets around campus and displayed banners where students could place their handprints and names.
Hubbard Lake Senior Nick Stepaniak said several members of different chapters also raised money by selling at least one $5 ticket to a person who was not involved in the Greek community.
“For the fundraising, this is the most we raised since I’ve been here in 2009,” Stepaniak, who also served as a Greek Week co-chair, said. “Last year, we raised more than $11,000, and, this year, we doubled that with more $22,000.”
According to The Jenna Kast Believe in Miracles Foundation website, their mission is “to enrich the lives of Michigan children suffering from life-threatening medical conditions by buying gifts and bringing joy and hope to their lives.” Along with their gift, each child helped also receives a personalized trophy to acknowledge their courageous fight.
The Greek community chose to donate their proceeds to the foundation, despite several organizations showing an interest in receiving the money.
Junior Jennifer Josey of Wayland said several organizations were interested in becoming the philanthropy for Greek Week.
“We sent out a questionnaire and based (our decision) off that,” Hopkins junior and Greek Week Co-Chair Jennifer Josey said. “We picked which philanthropy we thought would raise the most awareness. And, The Jenna Kast Believe in Miracles Foundation hit home, because one of our members of the Greek community started it in high school, so it was something to give back to him and his family for starting it.”
Josey said after making such a large amount of money, the Greek community still wants to raise their standards and strive for continued success.
“Each year, when you go into Greek Week knowing how much you’ve raised before as a community, we always want to outdo what we’ve done before,” Josey said. “We always want to make the best of what we can and raise more money and be better.”
Maine junior Blake Foster said this year’s Greek Week was definitely the most prevalent he’s seen since joining a fraternity in 2011.
“It was easily the most competitive Greek Week we’ve had in a long time,” Foster said. “Top team to bottom team, there was maybe 150 points difference. It was super close. It’s never been that close in the past.”
Stepaniak said it’s not easy to go against Greek stereotypes, but he hopes that people will realize Greek Week isn’t the only time Greeks come together and raise money for philanthropies.
“We’ve raised probably more than $100,000 as a community this year in all of our isolated events that were put on by single chapters,” Stepaniak said. “So, Greek Week is just one of probably 15 or 20 philanthropic endeavors we as a Greek community participate in it.”
Overall, Lagos said this was a great accomplishment for the Greek community, as a whole, ranging from freshmen to seniors.
“It’s awesome knowing such a large group of 18, 19, 20 and 21-year-olds have made such a big difference in the community in just a week,” she said. “I think everyone should be so proud of themselves doing that in college, being so young.”