Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, Boston University has forced all student groups, including Greek Life organizations, to pause on-campus activities for the remainder of the semester. Despite such limitations, all ten sororities and six fraternities at BU have united to fundraise for Project Sunshine, a U.S.-based charity organization that helps the many hospitalized children struggling alone, a problem especially prevalent during the ongoing epidemic.
BU’s Greek life has managed to raise almost $30,000 since the fundraiser began March 20, according to the Facebook event page.
Oliver Pour, a sophomore in the College of General Studies, co-created the fundraiser as a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi. He said he wanted to select an organization to support that would excite college students to contribute, as well as a way for donors to see tangible use of their money.
“We stumbled upon Project Sunshine and saw that the mission really aligned well with what can bring passion to people,” Pour said. “I personally really just love philanthropy, so coming together, we thought it was a perfect match.”
Project Sunshine partners with several children’s hospitals and pediatric centers across the country to provide children with activity kits that can include basketball hoops, drawing books and other crafts. The organization relies on volunteers to complete those tasks with patients and provide them company in medical settings, but only healthcare professionals are currently creating the kits, for public health concerns.
Pour said he started brainstorming ways to help others during the social distancing period during spring break. After consulting Sami Nelson, a fellow BU Greek life member, the project quickly came to fruition.
Nelson, a sophomore in Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and member of Delta Gamma, said that as a behavioral health major, she recognizes the significant impact that this specific program can have on the mental states of these kids.
“Being a child in a hospital is already so hard … and to not be able to have the family and the support that they typically rely on is really hard for them,” Nelson said. “It really helps support their psychological and emotional well being.”
To encourage maximal participation, Nelson and Pour said they decided to implement a competition after consulting the Interfraternity Council chapter on campus, which oversees and organizes the fraternities at BU. The group that raises the most money for Project Sunshine will receive $500 from the IFC and $500 from the Panhellenic Council, the sorority-equivalent network, to donate to a charity of their choice.
Currently, Delta Gamma and Alpha Delta Pi are in the lead, with total donations of nearly $7,000. The leaderboard has “changed each day,” Nelson said.
“[Nelson] and I thought it would be much more effective to make this some sort of competition, but all [going] to philanthropy,” Pour said. “Within the first day, [Delta Tau Delta] raised $1,500, which we set as the goal for everybody, $1,500 for each one, and it’s caught on fire.”
Although sorority and fraternity members have made the greatest contributions to the cause, Pour said about one-fourth of the donations have come from non-affiliates and family members.
“While Greek life is a very niche population, the overall BU population has seen it,” Pour said, in reference to the online movement. “That’s what’s really made this incredible.”
The campaign has since caught the attention of neighboring universities, including Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts, who have reached out to Nelson to implement the charity program on their own campuses.
Nelson and Pour both said they are pleased with the financial and emotional turnout and are impressed with the way BU has come together to achieve a shared goal.
“You can see that different communities are coming together for different causes, and I think that’s the greater overseen sense of this, if we can all come together and bring positivity out of this terrible pandemic,” Pour said. “That’s what really matters to us, and this is just one step to it.”
The fundraiser will continue to raise funds and try to exceed their goal of $30,000 by the its deadline, April 3.