GVSU fraternity to spend Valentine’s Day raising funds for childhood cancer

GVL / Emily Frye      
Austin Vignola of the Sigma Epsilon Fraternity on Tuesday Jan. 31, 2017.

GVL / Emily Frye Austin Vignola of the Sigma Epsilon Fraternity on Tuesday Jan. 31, 2017.

Ashlyn Korienek

For some people, Valentine’s Day means indulging sweets and spending the night alone, while others might be first in line at the supermarket with a box full of chocolates and giant stuffed animal that says “be mine.”

However, Grand Valley State University’s Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp) plans to celebrate the day by dropping carnations on students’ doorsteps and serenading them from a secret, or not-so-secret, admirer.

The fraternity is gearing up for the annual “Carnation Gram” sale where students can buy a carnation for $2, along with a personalized message, to be delivered on their doorstep. For an additional $3 the brothers will give a personal serenade.

For the past five years, SigEp has worked with St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which strives to fund research to cure childhood cancer.

“A few years back, SigEp didn’t really have a main philanthropy to fundraise. Then one brother took charge to find a charity with a great cause,” said Carlos Alfonso, former vice president of programming for SigEp.

In 2016, the fraternity raised $14,870 in philanthropy toward St. Baldrick’s. This year, the fraternity is raising the goal to $15,000.

Matthew Bryant, vice president of communications for SigEp, is confident the fraternity will reach and surpass last year’s amount.

“I definitely think we will make it. I really think it is important because that money helps benefit the kids that are suffering from cancer,” Bryant said. “It helps find the resources to keep them comfortable when they are going through treatment.”

In March, the brothers will host their annual head shaving event, where last year, between 20 to 30 brothers participated. Students and faculty are invited to watch and donate to the cause.

“Brothers are not the only ones that can support the cause,” Alfonso said. “Some are volunteers and others are members of other fraternities. We even had a member of a sorority participate last year.”

As Bid Day approaches, SigEp prepares to balance philanthropy with finding quality members to rush and join the brotherhood. Bid Day is set for Wednesday, Feb. 8, where the fraternities typically rally up around 30 to 40 bids total.

However, Alfonso said this semester could bring in a higher number than the last. Honing in on a year-round schedule, SigEp focuses on bringing in new members throughout the year and not only during the Bid Day rush.

“Rush usually happens once a semester, but SigEp has implemented a national 365 day recruitment rule,” he said. “This means we can bid someone at any given time, no matter the Interfraternity Council’s schedule.”

“We are all about continuous growth and development,” Bryant said. “Our rituals are different. Once you join SigEp you are a brother 100 percent. If a guy joins tomorrow, he has the same amount of say that I do. That all goes back to the continuous growth. Everyone is equal.”

The Carnation Gram sale will take place in the Kirkhof Center until Thursday, Feb. 9, and SigEp will table for requests from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

To learn more about Sigma Phi Epsilon, visit sigepgvsu.chapterspot.com/.