KD, Beta playground plan nixed, resources shifted
In an attempt to stray from the traditional trimmings of ThurtenE, Kappa Delta and Beta Theta Pi raised $20,000 to build a playground at a local elementary school. That proposal, however, was nixed by the school district.
Although KD and Beta had their minds set on making one permanent, physical contribution to the community—in addition to a temporary facade—the solution to the district’s rejection will be a distribution of recess supplies to multiple schools.
Citing problems with the fluidity of the schools, where any school could be converted to be an elementary, middle or high school at any time to handle the needs of the district, and possible liability concerns, the district informed KD and Beta that they would not be allowed to build a permanent structure like a playground.
As a result, the groups decided to look into other options, deciding on an organization called AIM for Fitness. With the amount of money they raised, the group will be able to provide more than one school with equipment for recess, like balls and scooters.
“Our project changed a little bit, but our goal still remains the same,” junior Frances Fuqua, vice president of membership and ThurtenE overall for KD, said. “We’re lucky enough, we’ve raised enough money to provide the AIM for Fitness program to more than one school, so that’s a really big deal, and it still ties in with the idea of having recess and having activities to do, games to play and fitness and things of that nature…Even though what our main goal was changed a little bit, I think it’s still cohesive with where we started out, and we’re just doing what is feasible in terms of the school system at this time.”
Senior Jacob Hale, design chair for Beta, said that the idea for the original project came from the groups’ hopes to go beyond raising money to make a change in the community.
“Our whole idea about this was to make a sustainable difference with ThurtenE. A lot of fraternities and sororities raise a lot of money, which is great, but we wanted to make a permanent difference in the St. Louis community, which is why we teamed up with the Farragut School and have been working with them ever since to try to make a lasting impact for them,” Hale said.
Junior Austin Middleton, vice president of operations for Beta, echoed these sentiments, saying that the groups felt that their ThurtenE work could be benefited by a tangible project.
“There is kind of this feeling that ThurtenE, although it does such a great thing to make an impact on the community through fundraising, there’s so much wasted effort where you build these giant facades and spend all of this money building it, and there is a week of that, and then it is essentially torn down at the end,” Middleton said. “It’s very much a waste of resources and time for something that doesn’t make a sustainable impact within the community. So we decided we wanted to explore some alternative options.”
To ensure that the maximum amount of money and time could be dedicated towards the project, KD and Beta created a 40 percent smaller facade this year. Hale and Middleton said that they wanted to use the play and facade to showcase their efforts.
“We love the fact that our focus isn’t on the ThurtenE facade, but on making more of an impact on the community,” Middleton said.
Farragut Elementary School, the initial beneficiary, lost its playground in the summer of 2012, when a group of local teens set it on fire, burning it down completely.
Hale said that the money spent on the façade did not detract from the funds raised for Farragut.
“All of the money that we raised goes specifically to our project, whatever it is that year,” Hale said. “So the chapter is funding the facade and the money that we raise around the facade goes straight to our charity. So there’s no overlap.
In the future, both groups expressed an interest in doing a similar project after learning from this first attempt.
“I’m hoping that other fraternities and sororities can pair up and we can maybe work on a big project, because if we can pool all of our funds and our man power and woman power to the same project we can make an even bigger impact. Next year if we can pick maybe one or two projects that everyone can put their money towards, that would be something really exciting, we could make a huge impact, more than just splitting up everything,” Hale said.