Spring philanthropy hits close to home

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Story by Connor Jaschen, Features Editor

In 2001, Maria Long was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at the age of 10. She would spend the next year in and out of St. Jude Children’s Hospital, until she died in 2002. She was survived by her sister, Mary Caroline Long, who would go on to dedicate herself to spending money and time in her sister’s memory.

Now in charge of this year’s Alpha Gamma Delta philanthropy, Long, junior from Louisville, Kentucky, said the Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation’s focus on juvenile diabetes care hits home, reminding her of her sister’s health conditions at such a young age. Long said she wanted to help other young people struggling with their health.

Taking charge of this year’s philanthropy in support of juvenile diabetes seemed like a perfect fit.

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Long

“Being a part of [Maria’s] life story has evolved into my life story,” Long said. “It has forced me to look at myself from within and share the experience with others.”

This year, the sisters of Alpha Gamma Delta followed the recipe laid out two years ago for their annual “XOXO Gossip Squirrel” fundraiser; the sisters collected donations in the Curris Center, selling items to raise money.

This year, though, the organization changed what they sold in order to better coincide with their philanthropy’s cause.

In the previous years, the philanthropy would sell bags of candy for $1 donations.

Since the philanthropy is going toward diabetes treatment, Long decided candy wasn’t the best product to sell. This year, they sold wristbands instead, each sporting the theme of the week, “Kissing Away Diabetes.”

Each bracelet would be bought for a special someone and the sisters went out at the end of the week to hand out the presents to whomever they were bought for.

In the end, they tallied up the total number bought for each sorority and fraternity to get the “Most Loved” prizes, winners being Kappa Delta and Pi Kappa Alpha, respectively.

The group also held change wars for the “Most Spirit Points Award,” with the winners being Alpha Omicron Pi in the sorority division and Sigma Chi in the fraternity division.

Rachel Ross, junior from Murray, said Long has done an excellent job in continuing what Ross started two years ago, with the addition of the bracelets as well as the walk held on Saturday, where participants released balloons in honor of those affected by diabetes.

“I loved the idea of adding the walk to ‘Kiss Away Diabetes’ because my grandmother was a diabetic,” Ross said.  “It was a bittersweet moment for me on Saturday to release a balloon in her honor.  The day before was the anniversary of her death, so it hit close to home.”

Though the philanthropy is not nearly as big as Alpha Gamma Delta’s fall philanthropy, ‘Rockathon,’ Ross said she hopes to keep the spring philanthropy as a simple way of lending a helping, philanthropic hand.

“It is a fun, simple way to raise more money for the Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation,” Ross said. “But I do see the walk continuing to grow.”

Long said she thought the week was a success and was thankful for all the participation from the Murray State community, particularly the Greek organizations.

She also encouraged those who missed out on the past week’s philanthropy to take the chance to participate in the upcoming “Up Till Dawn” philanthropy event, held by Murray State’s St. Jude’s Philanthropy Team, which Long is also a part of.

Through it all, Long said she always keeps her sister’s memory with her in these philanthropic pursuits.

“Maria has swept me into her mystery,” Long said. “Sharing her life with others keeps her spirit alive.”