Looking for ideas for your Greeks Give Back Student Competition project? Here are some thoughts and resources that might help spark your brainstorming session.
1. Take your current projects to the next level!
Consider some of your annual events or past events, and design an idea to increase their impact on your campus or in your community. Think about who your project helps and in what way. How do you know? What groups could you partner with to have an event greater impact?
If your group has hosted Vasilopita cuttings or Easter lamb dinners, for instance, consider how you could connect this event with a project to fight hunger or promote healthy or sustainable lifestyles. If your group holds a lecture series, shows films or sponsors outside speakers, consider how that event could bring people together, and leveraged to benefit others in need.
If your group has organized a Greek dance exhibition, a basketball or tavli (backgammon) tournament, or a campus clean-up, consider what would increase the community impact of this event. Perhaps the group could cooperate with other student groups on campus and local schools, places of worship, or community organizations that work with at-risk youth to organize a program that includes children or teenagers from the local community — a children’s “Earth Day” project, sports tournament or dance exhibition, in addition to or in conjunction with your campus event. Through this kind of program, your group would encourage team work, sportsmanship, cultural exchange and environmental awareness and bring together children from different backgrounds.
2. Organize your first project to give back!
If your group is new or does not yet have experience with larger events, you could get involved in an existing project or campaign.
Here are some examples:
- Approach a local art gallery, museum (Hellenic or non-Hellenic) or Hellenic cultural center to propose an outreach activity with their cooperation, or build on an existing outreach program, that benefits others in the larger community.
- Host a screening of a film that helps build awareness and raises funds for a specific cause that benefits others. A example of a film you could screen is the Lucky Girls Movie: a short video produced by a Hellenic American young professional who volunteered with a Greek Orthodox orphanage in India, and then produced the film to raise funds for the orphanage to send girls to college.
- Conduct a non-partisan Get Out the Vote campaign.
3. Make local impact a little more global.
Do you have friends studying at universities in Greece or Cyprus? Reach out and invite them to conduct a “sister-activity” — you do your project here, they do a similar project there, with local funding.
Resources for identifying volunteer opportunities or local organizations with which you could partner:
- United We Serve, a service initiative launched by the Corporation for National and Community Service
- Volunteer Match
- Service Nation
- Echoing Green: Civic Engagement, Volunteering, and Public Service Organizations
Examples from our Students of Greeks Giving Back
1. Greek American Student Organizes Community Effort to Benefit Somali Refugees
After hearing of a school for Somali refugees in Ethiopia that was in dire need of basic school supplies, next generation student Joe Kazacos reached out to the Greek community through the St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church in Syracuse, NY. Working with service groups, including the Greek Orthodox Youth Association (GOYA), as well as a local Scouting group, Joe was able to deliver 30 boxes of school supplies, computer software, backpacks, sports equipment, and textbooks the Somali Community Literacy Center in Addis Ababa. In addition, funds donated by churchgoers and others were used to construct and install whiteboards for all the classrooms in the Literary Center. This is a fantastic example of how the Greek community was integral in benefiting a worthwhile cause that will not soon be forgotten by the Somali students.
2. NYU’s Hellenic Heritage Association fields a team to fight cancer in a “Relay for Life”
Members of the Hellenic Heritage Association at NYU stepped forward last year to join in the Relay for Life, an overnight, team-relay event benefiting the American Cancer Society. Cali Pantazis writes that “it was a pleasure being the captain of our team, which raised close to $2,000. Each of the team’s 12 members did some individual fundraising before the event by asking family and friends for donations. In April we gathered with all the other teams in the gym at NYU. At our group’s table we had Greek sweets such as baklava, kataifi, kourambiedes, and koulourakia, which we sold to raise more money. Some of the sweets were homemade while others were donated from a bakery. At the event it was amazing hearing the survivor stories, as well as participating in the luminaria ceremony which remembered those lost, fighting, and or in remission from cancer. It was a great experience to be a part of, and to donate to this wonderful event.”
3. Stanford’s Hellenic American Society organizes benefit for orphans
For three years in row, members of the Stanford Hellenic American Society have hosted an annual “Winter Glenti” charity dinner to benefit an orphanage in Crete. This year’s event, which raises funds for the Panagia Kaliviani orphanage, is a semi-formal dinner on campus, featuring Greek American singer Margarita Bezaitis and a troupe of young Greek dancers. In the words of the Hellenic American Society’s president, Eunice Buhler, “we might not be able to fix the Greek economy, but at least we can help some kids in need.”
4. University of Illinois’ Hellenic American Student Association member tries everything from candy to ice skating shows to help save lives
When her godfather passed away, at 39, from pancreatic cancer, Danielle Tasiopoulos started her own non-profit organization for pancreatic cancer research called “I Want To Be A Lifesaver.” Initially, Danielle says “I made necklaces with Lifesaver candies and sold them to family and friends. I chose to donate all proceeds to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research. As time passed, I devised many different ways to raise money for the cause, including ice shows featuring Olympic contenders and silent auctions. When I came to the University of Illinois and joined the Hellenic American Student Organization we all shared our philanthropic causes. Many of the fellow members were excited and motivated to help me continue with my quest to raise money until pancreatic cancer is a thing of the past.”
5. Hellenic Society of Boston College raises funds to defend children’s rights
Every semester, the Hellenic Society of Boston College holds two big events. Featuring food and dance, these events usually attract the most people of all the activities they host. Vasilis Stotis writes that “Under the recommendation of our faculty advisor we decided this spring that, instead of making this Greek Night free of charge like usual, we would charge a $5 entrance fee — with all proceeds going to Το χαμόγελο του παιδιού — an organization that helps kids in Greece, making sure children’s rights are defended. We found that people coming to the event were very enthusiastic to contribute to the charity. This showed us we could mix the food and dance event that previously characterized our club, with a new emphasis on charity. By the end of the night, we had a great night with all our friends — and raised money for a worthy cause. It’s a trend we here at Boston College hope to continue.”
If you’ve organized or participated in a project that you’d like to share as an inspiration for others, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Suggestions from current students and alumni are welcome.