All over the world people donate time and money to causes they believe in. Plattsburgh State is no exception.
Students from many niches of the campus hold one or more causes close to their heart. Some students donate and some make it as far as calling what they do philanthropic.
According to Merriam-Webster, philanthropy is the good-will to fellow members of the human race and an active effort to promote human welfare.
“Philanthropy for me is raising money for a foundation or group that holds a deeper meaning than myself,” Fraternal Excellence Initiative Coordinator Giuliana Painter said. “I’m taking more action to do the raising of the money and dedicating myself to the cause.”
Painter, a senior history and art history major, said in comparison to other campuses with a similar size, PSUC does quite well with its fundraising for causes.
“Personally, I think you can never do enough,” she said. “You can always do more, and I wish I did more.”
Through her on-campus organization, Alpha Epsilon Phi, they nationally support Sharsheret, an organization that supports young women and their families of all Jewish backgrounds facing breast cancer and Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing pediatric HIV and eliminating pediatric AIDS, both of which she hold close to her heart. At PSUC, the chapter contributes time, money and efforts to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and AFSP, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
She said she plans on continuing to contribute to all four when she graduates. At home, she also does work with cardiac care units at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady.
“People on this campus say ‘I really care about this, but I don’t really know how to put my passion into action,’” Painter said. “and campus events like Relay for Life and Up ‘Til Dawn and things that Greek letter organizations have their philanthropies for help people do that.”
For Shaun Reardon, Fraternity Man of the Year and former president of Tau Kappa Epsilon, philanthropy is about giving back.
This summer Reardon had the opportunity to travel to Memphis, to visit St. Jude. He was able to see and learn about the day-to-day activities of the patients.
“When you sit in that auditorium and you look at the child who is eight-years-old dying of pediatric cancer and their parents are next to them crying and telling them how every day is a struggle,” he said. “You know why you sit outside in the freezing cold for three hours, and your missing your homework, and your problems become miniscule compared to the child that doesn’t have a chance because we haven’t found a cure.”
Reardon said that experience solidified exactly what he knew he wanted to do and to him, “that was amazing.”
Not just fraternity and sorority life at PSUC spends time donating time to a cause. Project HELP is a place a student can go to find volunteer opportunities. It is a clearing house for connecting students to the community, as well as campus events.
“I think the biggest connection between Project HELP and philanthropies is it does connect students to the community,” Chris Gebhardt, Project HELP’s graduate assistant, said. “Students come from out of the area and they live their lives according to the campus, but getting involved with events in the community is a good opportunity to get involved, and I think that’s the essence of what philanthropy really is.”
Last year, Project HELP had close to 1,000 volunteers and over 14,000 hours of volunteering over the course of the year.
“I think people don’t realize how rewarding it can be. Often times people look at community service from an outside point of view thinking they have better things to do with your time,” said Gebhardt said. “But once you’re involved with it, you do it and see the outcome and the benefits of it, you feel just as much of the reward as the people you’re giving to.”
Reardon said without students such as him in higher education, there would be much less awareness and donation to causes.
“The causes would be mute,” Reardon said. “We (collegiate students) are the ones that are out there on the front lines spreading the cause and the word about what they do, raising the money.”
Painter said it is important to start getting involved with philanthropies during a young college life. She said getting involved early will help students get a basis for being a part of the organization and doing charitable work for the world.
“It makes me feel better that I’m doing, and my actions are helping others,” Painter said.
Both Painter and Reardon said it is important to think about what causes are important to a student, to look at morals and values of their mission before investing time, money and effort into the organization.
“It starts with some self reflection,” Painter said. “What do you want to contribute to , what do you feel passionate about, doing a little bit of research on what organizations are out there, finding out more about organizations and their values, making sure their mission aligns with what you want to contribute to.”
“Never be afraid to speak up and raise awareness for what you want to do,” Reardon said. “The worst thing people can say when you’re asking for donations is no and then you don’t even have to worry that you didn’t ask.”
Email Lisa Scivolette at firstname.lastname@example.org