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SUNY Plattsburgh's Sigma Tau Gamma is doing what it can to help local youngsters Journey into Reading.
The fraternity has always supported childhood literacy, hosting an annual bowl-a-thon to raise money for the national "Books for Kids" campaign.
This year, however, the group wanted to do more and to make their efforts local. So, they set to work hosting a table in Angell College Center and "storming the dorms" to gather donations. Then, to top it all off, they held the inaugural SigTauStock, a family-friendly event featuring live music.
These efforts netted $750 and 50 books, all of which were donated to the Child Care Coordinating Council of the North Country for Journey into Reading, an early literacy program. Journey sends volunteers to read to families in Plattsburgh's mall every Thursday evening. After hearing a story or two, the children who attend get to pick out a free book.
With around 100 given away weekly, the fraternities' donation will amount to about a month and a half worth of books.
"Every penny will be used to buy books," said Alice Sample, coordinator of the program, who was very impressed by the men of the fraternity. She went to SigTauStock and found that "they were just having a good time while doing good things."
And those good things have already made an impact on her program.
"Without fundraising efforts like this, the books would not be there for children," said Sample.
At its national roots, Sigma Tau Gamma started out as a teacher's fraternity. This history – combined with SUNY Plattsburgh's history as a teacher's college and the fact that the local chapter has several education majors – all make the charity a good fit, said Nick Lavigne, the group's vice president for recruitment.
In fact, the brothers believe so much in the cause that, in addition to donating funds, they intend to donate their time and volunteer to read to children at the mall next year.
"It is our hope that the combined efforts of Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity and the Journey into Reading organization can help our community's children to achieve reading success, and, in so doing, give them the confidence they need to succeed in all of their educational endeavors," said Sigma Tau Gamma Chapter President Jonathan Witherell.
Lavigne, who is also the vice president for public relations for the Interfraternity Council, said that the reason fraternities and sororities embark on such philanthropic endeavors goes back to the definition of what a fraternity or a sorority is.
"Fraternities are meant to take you and make you into something more," said Lavigne.
He added that realizing you need to give something back to the community is part of that and that activities such as these can lead to a lifetime of giving.
"Doing philanthropy teaches you how to do things so you will go on to do them in your professional life," said Lavigne.
Sigma Tau Gamma Advisor Elizabeth Bernat said that she is proud to be associated with fraternity men of such distinction, who, "embrace and live out the true spirit of fraternalism."
For more information about Fraternity/Sorority life at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact:
Director of Fraternity/Sorority Life & Organization Development
Angell College Center 204
Phone: (518) 564-4825