This semester, the president and executive board of my fraternity, Sigma Alpha Mu, appointed me vice-philanthropy chair. In high school, I had truly enjoyed participating in community service. I loved spending hours serving free coffee and donuts to travelers along Interstate 84 in Connecticut with my Boy Scout troop, and I eventually became an Eagle Scout with the completion of my Eagle Scout project, the resealing of my synagogue’s 63,000 square foot parking lot. My new position allowed me to again enjoy helping those in need by raising money for the National Alzheimer’s Foundation, and I was extremely excited to accept the challenge of planning my fraternity’s philanthropic kickball tournament: Sammy Field of Dreams.
Planning the fraternity’s philanthropic kickball tournament was similar to planning an Eagle Scout project. The first step was contacting all the relevant USC departments to obtain permits, employees, and a field for the event. About two months prior to the philanthropy, at the end of the fall semester, I reached out to USC’s Recreational Sports committee to schedule a field and employees for our philanthropic kickball tournament. Before the start of spring semester, the hardest part of the planning process was over! Rec Sports booked the fraternity and me on McAlister Field, a soccer field just south of the fraternity row, on Saturday, February 15th, the morning after Valentine’s Day.
Then came the fun part: marketing the philanthropy. Remember, a philanthropic kickball tournament is only successful if there are participants to play kickball! I started off with a Facebook marketing campaign. All the fraternity members changed their Facebook profile pictures to a graphic of a kickball emerging from a cloud, making the caption of the photograph “Sammy Field of Dreams”. Next, the head philanthropy chair, my good friend Brennan Wilkerson, sent gift packages to the philanthropy chairs of all the USC sororities, our main participants in the event. Aside from a letter explaining the particulars of the philanthropy event, the package included flowers and animal cookies (a promotional item for our safari-themed party later that evening). If we thoroughly impressed the sorority philanthropy chair, the chair would encouraged her sorority sisters to attend our event. Apparel design was the final marketing step. Brennan and I designed Field of Dreams-themed tank tops for both guys and gals, with a dual purpose. First off, we could sell the tank tops at a slightly higher price than at which we bought them, with the profit being donated to the National Alzheimer’s Foundation. And secondly, the shirts served as free promotion. When a fraternity brother or sorority sister wore the Field of Dreams tank top, he or she advertised the philanthropy event. Other students saw the tank tops and wanted to participate, a successful mark of any marketing campaign.
Now, the moment we have all been waiting for: execution. The morning of Saturday, February 15th, I woke up relatively early (7 am) to begin preparation for the long day ahead. I made the philanthropy tournament bracket, wrote out kickball rules, and confirmed that I still had referees for the day’s games. At 10 am, I made my way to McAlister Field to set up four kickball fields, a few coolers filled with water, and a loudspeaker to play music. Concurrently, Brennan rallied the brothers, who proceeded to pick up each of the sorority teams from their respective houses. Back at the fraternity house, each sorority team mixed and met with a select group of brothers, their “captains” for the day’s games. Promptly at noon, the games began, with the inaugural game featuring Alpha Chi Omega versus Delta Delta Delta. Over the course of the next two hours and 45 minutes, 11 sorority squads battled to determine the top kickball squad. In a championship game between Alpha Phi and Alpha Delta Pi, ADPi emerged victorious! Overall, the day and the kickball tournament were overwhelmingly fun.
But Sammy Field of Dreams is at its heart a philanthropy, not a kickball tournament. I am proud to say that our fraternity raised over $2750 for the National Alzheimer’s Foundation, all in the span of five hours. More than 200 girls participated in the tournament, and over 100 fraternity brothers lent their time and effort to make the event a success. In my opinion, that is what philanthropy is all about, people coming together to donate their time in making a difference. I cannot wait for future Sammy philanthropy events and hope that my efforts inspire other leaders, both Greek and non-Greek, to work to better the world around them through charity.