Greek Week 2018 set a record in fundraising for philanthropy and the money will go toward a community program in Northeast Missouri.
The Greek community will fully fund the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program for two years with their donation of $24,500, the largest amount of money a Greek Week fundraiser has ever raised.
“Our jaws just dropped,” said senior Lindsey Schlichting, philanthropy committee chair. “We almost had a heart attack yesterday just getting in the totals, so it’s been incredible.”
Schlichting said the original goal was to reach $20,000 to help 800 children in Adair County. Now the $24,500 they raised will allow 980 children per year to participate in the program.
Dolly Parton started this program in 1995 in Tennessee to help children from birth to 5 years old begin reading no matter their socioeconomic status. The program enables families to receive one book per month through the mail for their child to have the chance to read.
The Kiwanis Club of Kirksville opened the Adair County chapter for the program in October. One of Greek Week’s philanthropy chairs, senior Matthew Barkofske, said the committee chose to support this program during Greek Week because of the benefit it could have for the local community.
“With all the philanthropies we looked at, we saw a lot of positives and everything, but we came to set on this one because it was right here in the community,” Barkofske said. “It was a very real impact we could make on the Kirksville community and Adair County at large. We love that every dollar raised for this organization goes to the local organization, and none of it goes back to the national infrastructure. It all goes to serving kids in this community.”
Barkofske said the organization’s fundraising could allow the program to expand to locations they might have hesitated on extending to before because of lack of funding. Barkofske said this can allow the program to help more families.
Barkofske said this year’s Greek Week paid special attention to the relationship between Truman State University and Kirksville through its events.
“I definitely saw the connection on the event that we had Monday which was a spring festival,” Barkofske said. “We invited elementary school kids to campus to come and play games, have food, hang out and have games with college kids versus Kirksville kids. It was a blast, I mean, it was a great event that went better than any of us could have ever imagined it.”
Schlichting said this program was important because it had many studies showing just having more books in the home increased children’s literacy levels all the way until eighth grade. She said it gives the caregiver and child more interaction and strengthens the bonds between them.
With this being Schlichting’s final Greek Week before graduation, she said she hoped this year’s Greek Week would be used as a model for future events.
Schlichting said the spring festival was the first interactive philanthropy event between the University and the Kirksville community, and Greek Life is hoping to continue doing events like it because of how successful it was.
Senior Stephanie Best, Greek Week public relations chair, said Greek Week is meant to uphold four pillars — integrity, scholarship, leadership and commitment. Best said Greek members encompass these qualities the whole week and beyond, in their everyday life.
“That’s one of the things I like about Greek Week,” Best said. “Not only does it bring this camaraderie of all the Greeks together, but it shows the outside community that raising money and philanthropy and service is such an important part of what we do, even though we are social sororities and fraternities — that [for] a lot of us, that philanthropy and service is one of the big elements that we choose to join.”
Best said the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program changed the focus of this year’s Greek Week because it was specifically about philanthropy. She said it was important for Greek Life to focus on this specific project to give back to the community.
“From my own experiences, I’ve seen that Adair County, especially with the kids, there’s a lot of need for support to help them grow their education,” Best said. “So I think just having the ability to gain access to books just once a month right to their door is just a great opportunity for them.”