Community service part of life for SAE, Chi-O

Kayla Medearis

Damian De Silva, economics senior, volunteers at the Sikes Lake cleanup on Sept. 12. Photo by Rawlecia Rogers.
Damian De Silva, economics senior, volunteers at the Sikes Lake cleanup on Sept. 12. Photo by Rawlecia Rogers.

Community service can impact lives, not only for those who receive service, but also for those who chose to give back. All through winter, volunteers come to soup kitchens and homeless shelters, putting together meals for the less fortunate in their communities in hot, cramped kitchens. These volunteers only hope that their work is making a difference.

Service is not necessary as part of graduation requirements, but it is a part of life for some organizations on campus. For members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Chi Omega, community service comes with the territory.

SAE hosts at least one philanthropy event per semester and has held two events so far this fall, the most recent being participating in the Susan G. Komen North Texas race for the cure. All members are required to attend at least one event per semester.

“We care for this community,” said Romeo Botelua, president of SAE. “Since we are a working fraternity and everyone has different schedules because of school and work, we try to host as many events and be involved as much as we can, to make sure everyone gets the requirement.”

A few Wichita Falls organizations who have benefitted from SAE in the pasts have been the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Children’s Miracle Network at United Regional Hospital and Patsy’s House.

“We help out when they need us to,” said Botelua, a mechanical engineering junior. “The last thing we did for Patsy’s House was work on the landscape last spring.”

And with the holiday season approaching, the fraternity is organizing a canned food drive for the Wichita Falls Food Bank.

The ladies of Chi-O also stay busy in the community by hosting events. Members of the sorority are required to have at least six hours of community service per semester. The Make-a-Wish foundation is the national charity for ladies of Chi-O. They hold at least two events every school year, and proceeds go straight to MAW. After it became the sorority’s national charity back in 2001, the chapter has raised more than $125,000.

“I am very proud of my girls,” said Joellen Tritton, the Chi Omega advisee. “We have a very good reputation with this community. The girls are always a part of something.”

Chi-O has participated in the Wichita Falls Cattle Baron’s Ball as well as the American Heart Association “Red Dress” brunch. Members have assisted downtown at the annual Ben Franklin spaghetti dinner and also ran a rest stop during the Hotter’N Hell races.

“It takes dedication to do what these girls commit to,” said Tritton. “I’ve seen them get there to have a stand ready by 7 a.m. and keep it running until the afternoon when it’s scorching outside.”

And if a Chi Omega member is ever short on hours, the Wichita Falls Humane Society is their number one spot to go and help with puppies to receive service hours.

In addition to the Wichita Falls Food Bank and the Humane Society, students can donate their time at The Boys and Girls Club.

There are eight branches of the Boys and Girls Club in Wichita Falls. All of them receive volunteers and some even employ students. Director of Operations Carlos Martinez said there are four students employed at the club on 6th St.

“What a lot of people aren’t aware of is that we have internships and many scholarships available for college students,” said Martinez. “We want to get the word out and when people come in and volunteer, it helps put a face to a name.”

Portico, a college ministry life group affiliated with First Baptist Church, also has community service events throughout the year that students can join in on. An upcoming event is a coat drive to brace less-fortunate residents of the area for the winter weather soon to come.

But students don’t have to be affiliated to go out and perform community service; they just go out and do it of their own free will.

“I go downtown to the food bank and help assemble PowerPaks to be distributed,” said Savannah Luna, nursing freshman.

When a volunteer goes in and helps begin PowerPak prep, they help break down items that are in bulk and separate them into kid-friendly foods to be sent home with kids in need in the area.

Not only does Luna help out at the food bank here in Wichita Falls, when she goes home to Burleson she helps at her local soup kitchen as well.

“When I was in high school, my mom made sure I did 100 hours of community service because she told me that colleges wanted their students to be well rounded,” said Reba Moreno, exercise physiology junior. “I didn’t know it would be worth anything until I got a scholarship for it.”

Moreno tries to put in one or two hours a week just to keep herself in the habit. She said she believes that when she finishes college the established connection she has with different organizations will act as reliable references. She also continues to volunteer different places because, “…you never know who you could meet and have a conversation with and that will lead to your career.”

Brittany Coleman, nursing junior, said she experienced what happens when volunteer work lead to something more.

“In the eighth grade a group of friends and I started volunteering to referee games at our local YMCA, and after the basketball season ended I was offered a job… five years later I was the aquatics department supervisor,” Coleman said.