Leaders plan first campus-wide Greek Day of Service

Greek leaders want GW – and D.C. – to know they do more than just have a good time.

To challenge what some call a reputation for partying, Greek Week this November will feature an all-day Greek Day of Service, pushing GW’s 41 Greek-letter organizations to give back to the greater D.C. area.

The day of service on Nov. 8 will cap off Greek Week, which leaders said was a time for the chapters across campus to remember why they went Greek. The nearly 3,000-person Greek community will visit sites included in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, which in the past has involved activities like organizing books at libraries in public elementary schools and painting murals at North Michigan Park in Northeast D.C.

Eric Estroff, president of Sigma Chi, said a Greek-wide day of service would help shift the perception that Greek’s philanthropic events are about raising money or hosting an event instead of giving back.

“There’s another notion of changing the culture of philanthropy on campus and making it service-oriented,” he said.

Panhellenic Association President Kasey Packer said Greek leaders chose to create an event similar to the annual Freshmen Day of Service to bring chapters together and give back to the D.C. community.

“We all focus on individual philanthropies, but the community has come together and had this sense they wanted to do a full Greek day of service for all Greeks,” she said.

It’s not the first time Greeks have focused on service activities. In 2012, the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association added a day of service with Teach for America to the schedule of Greek Week events, after 70 members of Sigma Chi participated in a Greeks in the Classroom event at D.C. schools.

Mollie Bowman, the vice president of programming for the Panhellenic Association, said each site would be assigned one fraternity, one sorority and one multicultural Greek organization. By grouping Greek organizations, they hope to promote “Greek unity.”

“It’s working together with other chapters who we don’t have the same philanthropy with and saying ‘Look, we can still help other people even though it’s not our own philanthropy right now,’” she said. “This is us going in and getting involved at a different level.”

Jacqueline Thomsen and Colleen Murphy contributed reporting.

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