Story and gallery by VIRGINIA HILL
As a college student, it can be hard to get involved with service or even think about anything other than yourself and school. But an unlikely group is encouraging students to get involved in philanthropy and making it fun. Chi Omega, or Chio, is hosting a service-oriented week to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Chi Omega is a national sorority with the local chapter being part of the University of Utah campus. Chio attracts hundred of women every year and encourages friendship and sisterhood. According to the Chio’s mission statement, it strives to promote friendship, personal integrity, service to others, academic excellence, community, campus involvement, and personal development. While sororities throughout the country may get a reputation contrary to this mission statement, the annual efforts of the local Chio chapter to host a Wish Week in service to the Make-A-Wish Foundation demonstrate its devotion to the sorority’s mission.
Savanna Dubell, president of the local chapter of Chi Omega, made it clear how important service is to her and the members. She explained Chio’s history with Make-A-Wish and the dedication to service. “For almost 30 years Chio has had a national philanthropy, it is a cause that the sorority believes in and that all chapters would work to raise money for. A while ago they made a partnership with Make-A-Wish and that is who we continue to work with today,” she said.
From Sept. 24-27, Chio hosts Wish Week, a week completely devoted to planned, paid admission events that attract peers to come and participate in philanthropic efforts. This annual event changes from year to year depending on plans made by the director of philanthropy.
Eliza Parkin, the 2018 director, gave a brief summary of the week she planned: “Monday was dessert night, where girls bake or buy treats and other students come and buy them, Tuesday we partnered with Buffalo Wild Wings to bring wings to our house where boys or girls can compete in a wing eating contest, Wednesday we partnered with Chipotle so they will give us a portion of all profits made at one of their locations, and Thursday we hosted a big soccer tournament for anyone who wants to watch or participate.”
With all these events there is some sort of purchase or buy-in, and Parkin explained that 100 percent of the money went toward Make-A-Wish to help one particular child.
This child is an important one and the focus of all of Chio’s efforts. With the philanthropic efforts each year, Chio is able to donate the money to a particular child through Make-A-Wish. Both Parkin and Dubell feel that this personal approach to donation and philanthropy “incentivizes the girls to work towards something meaningful and feel that their efforts and money are going toward something real.”
This year’s 2018 Wish Girl is Mackenzie, a 13-year-old who has been battling cancer. According to Chios interviewed for this story, Mackenzie has a bubbly personality that has not been diminished by her personal health struggles. Mackenzie has a wish to go to Disney World and with the efforts of Chio, they hope to reach this goal by the end of the year. The women have all been able to meet Mackenzie and are touched by her story.
Meggie Nelson, a sister of Chi Omega, said, “Mackenzie and Make-A-Wish are very close to my heart and our chapter wants to do everything it can to raise money for her.”
Chios are pushing to completely fulfill her wish and are on track to do so. The Chio women’s efforts to do just that are tremendous, they worked tirelessly to plan and orchestrate great events, they posted announcements and calls to action on social media to encourage friends to come and participate. These events turned out to be packed with students and peers enjoying themselves and contributing what they could to this cause.
The women’s devotion to this has been encouraging and sets an example to others about service. This devotion seems to be a national effort as well. According to the national Chi Omega website, chapters have raised “more than 20 million dollars and have volunteered over a million hours for Make-A-Wish.” But Wish Week is just the beginning of Chio’s philanthropic efforts this 2018 school year. According to Parkin, the chapter will continue to host events and find ways to raise money for Mackenzie through the end of the school year. There is even talk of hosting a masquerade ball to further their efforts. The work of Chio and its leaders has made for a successful Wish Week.