Remembering what it means to be charitable

At Wash. U., we seem to love being charitable. Every fraternity and every sorority puts on at least one philanthropic event every year. Each honorary has several community service initiatives, which often involve fundraisers for charity. We come together for Linus, Thurtene and Mr. Wash. U.

These events are impressive, and the accomplishments of two recent events demonstrate to us the capacity of our campus to help the community that surrounds it. Last Thursday, Kappa Kappa Gamma held Kappa Karaoke to benefit Lydia’s House, an organization that provides transitional housing for victims of domestic abuse. Then, on Friday night, the Linus Foundation held its semiannual benefit in St. Louis to support a variety of children’s charities. For $40-55, attendees were admitted to the Coronado Ballroom downtown for a benefit party with an open bar.

To date, the Linus Foundation has raised $106,000 through benefit parties for programs that educate and empower underprivileged children in multiple cities across the U.S. Kappa raised $1,700 on Thursday and donated more than 700 used books to children of the women of Lydia’s House. These numbers stand as a testament to the abilities of those who planned these events and a reminder that we, as students, are capable of truly helping the St. Louis community.

Both of these fundraisers have proved immensely popular among students: The Linus Foundation benefit has sold out every year in recent memory, and Kappa Karaoke filled the Gargoyle to capacity each year before moving to the DUC to fit more people for this year’s event. And let’s face it: Both Linus and Kappa Karaoke are a lot of fun, and that’s why we go. The same phenomenon is true of two other extremely successful events on campus: Mr. Wash. U. and Thurtene, and it’s true of most successful fundraisers outside of a college environment.

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But while we commend those who work hard to attract students to these events, we feel that student participation in philanthropy shouldn’t end the morning after we attend the Linus Foundation benefit. Charitable fundraisers should serve as a beginning of active participation in philanthropy, not an end. For example, the Linus Foundation helps youth who are less privileged than we are; we can take its mission to heart and begin volunteering through Each One Teach One, Big Brothers Big Sisters or Out Of The Blue.

As a campus full of overachievers, we’re often told that we will soon be leaders in business, academia and politics. With this image of future leadership comes a responsibility to make our first steps into adulthood count, and to do so with active consideration. The money raised by philanthropic events at Wash. U. does fantastic things for our community. But participation in community service benefits those who volunteer in addition to those who receive their efforts. In order reap the benefits of the charity events that Wash. U. students work hard to organize, we need to consider their purposes and understand why we’re giving our money.