With recruitment right around the corner, I wanted to share a little bit about Alpha Omicron Pi’s philanthropy. AOII strongly supports the Arthritis Foundation. When people think of arthritis, they think only older people can get it. This is a common misconception that we are here to squash! Arthritis can happen to children, adults, and even animals. I am 21 years old and I have reactive rheumatoid arthritis which means my arthritis is triggered when I get sick. My mother is 48 years old and has rheumatoid arthritis in her finger (I’m pretty sure she got that from combing through my curls all these years!). Specifically, rheumatoid arthritis affects more than just your joints, it can attack any body system like the lungs, skin, eyes… etc. That is why philanthropy is so important to me because it personally affects me. My mother had to get surgery on her finger, in hopes to bring down the swelling and ease the pain. However, even after surgery her finger can’t bend all the way and it still hurts her if it is working for too long. This is just one example out of the 3 million cases per year.
There are over 100 different kinds of arthritis in the world and yet, there is still no cure for arthritis. AOII’s philanthropy raises money to help in the research of arthritis to provide medication and treatments to make it more comfortable for people to live with it. Since there is no known cure, all we can do is help people feel more comfortable. Rho Beta Chapter’s major philanthropy events dedicated to raising money for the arthritis foundation are Strike Out Arthritis! And Jingle Bell Run.
Strike Out Arthritis happened in our spring semester, where we sold baseball tickets to the Flying Squirrels game in Richmond, Virginia. Baseball isn’t necessarily my favorite sport, but sitting at these baseball games with sisters, and screaming when the ball comes flying over the net is such a blast. At the game, our president even gets to throw the first pitch! Upsilon Lambda Chapter at the University of Texas at San Antonio also hosts Strike out Arthritis! They raise money through tabling. In general, tabling is a major way AOII raises money for the Arthritis Foundation. Upsilon Lambda raised $400 in 4 hours of tabling!! After their sisters created a giant blue ribbon, they propped it up at their table and sold hand-made buttons and asked for donations in the outside corridor of their campus.
Jingle Bell Run is another event that my chapter takes part in during the Fall semester. As a chapter, we would volunteer to help out with the marathon, or sisters could donate to the cause and sign themselves up for the race. Although it is brutally cold in December when we do this, pouring hot chocolate for guests, or guiding runners and cheering them on with sisters makes it worth the while!
Our other contributions consist of stuffing pandas, which we sometimes do for recruitment, and other times we do as group bonding exercises. The pandas are significant to children who are suffering from arthritis. These pandas get donated to juvenile arthritis camps, which AOII sets up and funds. The pandas are used to help the children show the doctors where their pain is. If their pain is in their knees, they will point to the panda’s knee. It also acts as a way for the doctors to show their younger patients where they will be getting shots to help them feel better.
Those are just Rho Beta Chapter philanthropic experiences; Chi Psi Chapter at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in California is involved in two large philanthropy events: Mr. Fraternity and Walk to Cure Arthritis. Mr. Fraternity is a fun competition Chi Psi Chapter puts together in which each member from a fraternity is paired with a woman in AOII, thus creating teams. Each team choreographs a dance or some kind of performance in which they will perform and compete for the title Mr. Fraternity. All of the proceeds from this event are donated to those affected by arthritis. The Walk to Cure Arthritis is an annual event held by the Arthritis Foundation. AOII chapters that get involved are featured as a local team and work as a chapter to raise money for the Arthritis Foundation. The Walk to Cure Arthritis is a nationwide event and usually takes place in May, which is the National Arthritis Awareness Month.
Although Arthritis may not seem severe, it is the leading cause of disability in America. Arthritis is a blanket term because there are more than 100 types of Arthritis, but each one comes with its own complications. This is why AOII works so hard to raise money for the Arthritis Foundation - it cannot be cured, but we try our best to help those who have it live a comfortable life! Because together, we’re “stronger than Arthritis”!
Xx, Ashley Newman
Virginia Commonwealth University, Alpha Omicron Pi