APO offers campus chance to give back to community

by J.T. JordanStaff Writer

Many students on campus may recognize the Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity by the charitable events the organization sponsors. What many students don’t realize though is that the group is a nationally distinguished fraternity that dedicates its time to developing leadership, promoting friendship and providing service to all humanity.

“APO is a service fraternity,” said Pat Singer, professor of biology and APO faculty advisor. “Its whole existence is based on students serving others and being good citizens.”

APO was established in 1925 at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. Since this time more than 350,000 members have joined its cause. Currently the fraternity is headquartered in Independence, Mo.

Currently, there are more than 17,000 male and female members from 366 college campuses across America that are active in APO. The organization’s enrollment is open to anyone who wants to become involved in serving humanity. Simpson presently has 25 students involved in its section’s chapter.

The national organization views each individual chapter as the necessary element that provides opportunities for the growth of service projects, social awareness, friendship and leadership skills.

Students involved in the fraternity demonstrate these main components by organizing on-campus service events.

One of the fraternity’s most popular events is the blood drive that takes place twice a year, once each semester. This spring semester, APO will be assisting The Blood Center of Iowa with donations in Hopper Gymnasium from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. today and tomorrow. Walk-ins are welcome.

APO will also be participating in Up ‘Til Dawn, a national fundraising event for St. Jude’s Childhood Cancer Research Center. This event helps generate donations that go toward paying for the operating cost of the foundation.

“Every person that is participating sends out 50 letters to family and friends asking for donations that we can send to St. Jude’s,” junior Tracy Robson said. “Then next month, we are having an all-night themed party to show our support for the kids with cancer.”

APO members spend time contributing to service projects off campus as well. Students involved in the fraternity often frequent the Catholic Worker House in Des Moines to lend a hand. They also prepare meals for the Ronald McDonald House on certain days during the semester. It is this type of volunteer charity work that APO members believe can make a difference in today’s society.

“I really enjoy helping people, and it really means a lot to me that we do stuff that will benefit a lot of people,” junior Alia Winterbottom said. “Families at the Ronald McDonald House have to do a lot for their kids, so the little stuff that we help them out with can make a huge difference to those families.”

Most recently, the group made blankets for the Catholic Worker House in Des Moines. The project was funded by the SGA and around 10 fleece tie-blankets were donated.

The national fraternity is a nonprofit organization, which means all activities each chapter participates in must be self-funded. Fundraisers such as the dunk tank during the stand around and the carnation sale on Valentine’s Day help fund Simpson’s APO members’ service projects. These fundraisers also allow the chapter to donate money toward charitable foundations.