College philanthropy: more than just T-shirts and writing checks

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February 27, 2007

2:06 PM

March is just a few days away, meaning the philanthropy season will soon be brought to campus, ushered in by the biggest event of them all, Campus Golf. With this first bloom of spring, the campus community braces itself for the grueling task of attending midnight pancakes, denim sales at the Hospitality House, crepes in the French house, poker in the Campus Center, pasta dinner in sorority court, coffee in Lodge 1, eye-opening movie screenings galore and croquet, homerun derby and relays, all in the Sunken Garden.

p. Try walking into the scheduling office this time of year. You’ll find that the campus is booked solid with fundraisers and performances of all sizes and causes.

p. Indeed, our campus always has some philanthropic activity to participate in, but these next two months prove will prove to be a veritable cornucopia of drunken (and charitable) delight.
Each event appeals to a different vice or persona imbued by a population on campus. The Delta Gamma Charity Denim Sale on Friday has a certain draw to the female designer jeans crowd that may not be the same as the stumbling early-morning golfers that appear bundled in parkas and costumes the following day. I, a woman of many faces, will be at both, though with the chancy forecast for Saturday, I will likely not be wearing my newly acquired denim.

p. As the weather warms and the rain, rain goes away, outdoor events bring a lazier kind of athlete out to the field — one, perhaps, looking for a tan in the company of his equally generous teammates. There are many such philanthropic sporting events from half-marathons (for runners of all levels) to Nerf football, Moonball, and AXOlympics, all of which work up an appetite for the food-oriented fundraisers.

p. VOX knows what’s up. The group’s Midnight Bake Sale merges all of the elements of a good philanthropy — drunk people, good food and a worthy cause. The Facebook group promoting the event illuminated these values. “I’m going to drag my drunk self to purchase a baked good from VOX.” Well said.

p. While Facebook has certainly helped to let the campus know about upcoming events, sometimes less is more. I get a little overwhelmed with the event invitations for which I neither understand the titles nor read the details. I thought that the Bedfellows’ show was actually a silver dollar pancake charity event, though I’m not sure that I would have been disappointed to see the show by accident.

p. Then there’s the swag people get for their participation. A word of advice to those still in the planning stages of their philanthropy — our drawers are full of T-shirts. Our drawers are full of adult men’s T-shirts. Not that I don’t wear them anyway. When picking out a workout outfit, I am often conflicted — whom do I rep today?

p. As someone in a sorority, I feel (unjustly, I’m sure) torn about wearing a shirt to promote a competing philanthropy. Am I doing a disservice to my own upcoming event by wearing a T-shirt supporting another cause? Do I misrepresent myself as a member of a different organization by wearing its T-shirt? In this way, college philanthropy sometimes loses its true significance.

p. Everyone with the means should support each philanthropy, either by attendance, spreading the word, donating straight to the supported organization (Avalon, Prevent Child Abuse America, Operation Smile, American Cancer Society, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, etc.) or perhaps just making an effort to learn about the cause. While the many organizations on campus are competing for students’ funds, time and energy, we should strive to create the most supportive and generous community we can.

p. So, enjoy the coming weeks, play outdoors, eat great food, buy great products and do it with lots of friends, a warm heart and an open wallet. It’s a lot more fun than just mailing a check.

p. __Charlotte Savino is a Confusion Corner columnist for The Flat Hat. Her gym ensembles do not necessarily reflect the philanthropic preferences of The Flat Hat.__

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