Students at Virginia Tech were extra generous this year by donating a record amount of more than $18,000 to the annual Flex Out Hunger program, the proceeds of which benefit the Montgomery County Emergency Assistance Program.
A joint program between Dining Services and Virginia Tech’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, Flex Out Hunger offers students the opportunity to donate some or all of the remaining balance of their dining plans at the end of each spring semester.
Dining Services then uses the donations to purchase gift cards from local grocery stores. The gift cards are then donated to MCEAP, which uses them to purchase food for local families in need, with approximately 75 to 100 pounds of food going to each family, said MCEAP Lead Community Service Worker Rhonda Roten. She added that the donations are what keep the organization afloat each year.
“Last year, we served approximately 2,182 households, providing close to 109 tons of food to people in need,” she said. “Without the donations from Flex Out Hunger, we would not be able to sustain our pantry.”
Sigma Alpha Epsilon philanthropy chairs Jonathon Biery of Pittsburgh, Pa., a junior majoring in finance in the Pamplin College of Business, and Mac Buescher of Arlington, Va., a junior double majoring in economics in the College of Science and finance in the Pamplin College of Business, said approximately 570 students donated to the program this year, resulting in a grand total of $18,203.77.
Biery and Buescher said this is the largest amount ever raised by the program, and is well over the average of $15,000 per year.
“We’re very excited about how we raised the money this year,” said Biery. “We had 100 percent participation from our brothers. That’s the first time in a long time that that’s happened.”
Both said they believe that level of participation is what made the difference.
This year’s Flex Out Hunger program took place from April 24 to 27 at tables located outside several dining centers on the Virginia Tech campus. Each table was manned by Sigma Alpha Epsilon members who assisted students in filling out forms indicating how much of their dining plan balance they wanted to donate.
Flex Out Hunger at Virginia Tech began in the fall of 2000 as a partnership between Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Dining Services, a department within the Division of Student Affairs. Modeled after a successful program at Washington University, the goal of Flex Out Hunger is to provide an easy way for Virginia Tech students to donate money to the local community.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon is a member of Virginia Tech’s Interfraternity Council, which governs the university’s traditional-majority men’s general fraternal organizations. The Interfraternity Council, along with the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the Multicultural Greek Council, and the Panhellenic Council, is advised by the office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, also a department within the Division of Student Affairs.
Written by Jennifer Gibson.