Sorority can drive exceeds expectations
Published: Sunday, October 21, 2012
Updated: Sunday, October 21, 2012 16:10
Thousands of pounds of food were donated to the Harbor House of Central Florida Thursday, enough to feed domestic violence victims at the shelter for nearly three years.
The Pi Psi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha dropped off more than 11,000 pounds of canned goods at the conclusion of its third annual Think PINK Project, more than double the amount it collected last year.
The project, named for the sorority’s color, salmon pink, was designed as a competition. Individual, group and organization teams were formed to collect as many cans as possible during a two-week period that lasted from Oct. 2 through Oct. 16.
It is one of several charity events the sorority hosts during the semester to fulfill its six initiatives: global poverty, social justice and human rights, health, economic security, emerging young leaders and internal leadership through external service.
“You always want to do better than what you did before, and that’s what we strive for in Pi Psi,” said the project’s chair, Melissa Westbrook, a senior double majoring in health sciences and biology.
The number of domestic violence cases reported in Orange County last year was the second highest in the state of Florida. The 8,500 cases were second only to Miami-Dade County. The Harbor House provides a safe haven for victims by providing 24-hour emergency shelters and outreach programs.
“We chose to do Harbor House again because when you actually walk in there and see the women, it’s really touching,” Westbrook said. “And we want to be consistent with what we do, so we maintain our loyalty to the Harbor House.”
The winners of the drive were announced Wednesday night at the Think PINKnic at the Lake Claire Recreation Area pavilion. Music could be heard from down the street and the smell of barbecue filled the air. The pavilion was full. Pi Psi members and supporters talked and danced, waiting for the winners to be announced.
The overall winner was a six-person team called HOPE, an acronym for Hunger, Opposition and Prevention Enterprise. The group collected 4,100 pounds of food, more than the total amount collected last year, and beat out 38 other teams. Each of the six members was awarded a $10 gift card to Barnes & Noble.
The picnic was one of several charity events Pi Psi held over the weekend including a jail and bail, silent auction and breast cancer awareness event.
“Our main purpose is to change the world and make things better,” said junior Kelcey Sablon, AKA weekend chair of the events.
Sophomore biotechnical major Ivory Paulk formed a team of four women after receiving an email about the food drive. She had never been involved in an AKA event, but felt it was her duty to help. She was inspired by a member of her church, Sister Marsha at Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, who began a food pantry to support other members in need.
“There’s a time and place for everything, and I felt like this was the time for me to reach out,” Paulk said.
She gave impassioned speeches to each of her classes about how thousands of people in poverty-stricken countries go hungry because the food produced in the country is sold for profit outside of the country.
One of her professors was moved by the speech and offered three points of extra credit to any students who brought in 10 cans or more. Paulk matched the amount of food her classmates collected.
“You have to give back if you want good to come back to you,” Paulk said.