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FSILGs Serve Community in Holiday Season

By Jean K. Lee

Amidst the holiday bustle and final exam preparations, many Independent Living Groups are showing their spirit by participating in various community service activities.

One of the biggest activities serving the community for the holiday season this year is the Giving Tree Program, whose goal is to provide toys for needy children in the Cambridge and Boston areas.

Jointly sponsored by the MIT Panhellenic Association and the Public Service Center for the past four years, the program collects gift pledges and monetary donations from a variety of organizations, ranging from campus dormitories and faculty administration to fraternities and sororities.

In addition, the Junior Interfraternity Council brought together volunteers from different houses last Sunday for a pie-making event, held to donate food to community shelters. The event is also also geared toward improving relations between the houses, starting with the freshmen.

"Activities like these give people a chance to become friends without thinking about any rivalries or stereotypes," said Lisa E. Tatterson '98, one of the coordinators of the event.

Participating fraternities and sororities included Alpha Phi, Delta Tau Delta, Delta Upsilon, Kappa Alpha Theta, Lambda Chi, Phi Kappa Theta, Pi Lambda Phi, Theta Xi, and Zeta Psi.

ILGs also organize independent activities

Various ILGs have organized independent service activities as well. One special event administered by Phi Delta Theta was Toy Day, when the brothers spent a day at the MIT Hobby Shop making 430 wooden toys for distribution to shelters and orphanages.

Phi Sigma Kappa organized "the Teddy Bear Gifts," in which the brothers purchase and distribute teddy bears to underprivileged children.

"It's a great event," said Roy E. Swart 97, PSK philanthropy chair. "The sparkle in those kids' eyes when they receive a teddy bear during a traumatic time is priceless!"

This Sunday, Phi Gamma Delta and Alpha Chi Omega jointly hosted a Christmas party for the children of the Boston After School Program, where they decorated Christmas trees and interacted with the children through games.

In the same vein, Sigma Phi Epsilon held the Greater Boston Big Brother/Little Brother Association Annual Christmas Party. About 100 children played games like scavenger hunts and received gifts donated by the brothers.

The sisters of Sigma Kappa baked cookies for patients at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

A number of ILGs - including Phi Beta Epsilon, Kappa Alpha Theta, Sigma Kappa, and the Women's Independent Living Group - are involved with community service at the Margaret Fuller House, where volunteers tutor, entertain, and care for children. Last Friday, PBE, Kappa Alpha Theta, and WILG gathered to give the children of the House a campus tour of MIT.

Next Saturday, Kappa Alpha Psi will hold a Christmas party and provide gifts through the Sponsor-A-Child Program for the children of St. Joseph's Elementary School. The brothers of Delta Epsilon helped with the Santa Claus Anonymous Snowball Event that raised funds for inner-city youth organizations.

ILGs including AP, Alpha Tau Omega and DTD are involved with the Greater Boston Food Bank in providing food for more than 900 food banks and shelters. Many other ILGs are participating in several clothing, food, and toy drives this winter. Non-student groups, such as the Campus Police and the Aramark Food Services have joined in a food drive to serve the community.

Many students have found their participation in community service activities to be rewarding. "Our tests and problem sets seem very petty when you walk by a homeless person," says Kenneth J. Michlitsch '98, the community service chairman of ZP. "Getting involved at least lets us feel as if we're trying to make a difference especially at Christmas."

Public Service Center Director Emily B. Sandberg agrees. "Through service activities, students have made an immeasurable impact in the community. I'd like to urge more students to use the PSC as a vehicle in making that difference," she said. "The hardest part is finding the time, but students really do care."