The event came out of an idea to sell hot chocolate. But after some fine-tuning, the brothers of Alpha Tao Omega fraternity had developed a plan to stay out at the bell tower for 30 consecutive hours collecting money, clothing and canned goods.
On Feb. 20, starting at 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. the next day, the fraternity hosted its second-annual 30-Hour Campout to End Homelessness.
All of the members were obliged to go to classes, but otherwise remained outside for the 30 hours.
“After the success of last year, we owed it to the community to do it again,” said ATO president Bill Hapenovich.
Last year, the fraternity raised more than $1,400. They donated the money to the Philadelphia Committee to End Homelessness. This year, ATO succeeded in raising $1,525.30.
“We’re donating what we have, which is our time and our willingness to do something as crazy as spending 30 hours out at the Bell Tower in the middle of February,” said James Hesky, a senior public relations major.
The brothers remained optimistic despite the flurries that accompanied the bitter cold. One pledge, Colby Bartine, a freshman film major, said it wasn’t as bad as it seemed.
Hesky first heard of the organization while taking a creative writing class with a professor who was on the committee.
“The great thing about PCEH is they’re trying to find a long-term solution,” Hesky said.
The PCEH was founded in 1984 and started as a group of people walking around the streets of Philadelphia talking to homeless people.
“It’s about maintaining contact and letting them know there are people out there who are willing to support them and who will come back every week, who will visit,” said communications and awareness director Kathleen Lewis.
PCEH is divided into two segments, the day center and outreach. The day center provides homeless men with showers, as well as use of telephones, a mailbox and counseling. While it does not provide women with showers, it does provide them with all other mentioned amenities. Outreach is where volunteers of PCEH scour the streets talking to the homeless to find out what the organization can do for them.
In 2006, PCEH founded SafeHome Philadelphia, which strives to find homes for all who live on the streets or condemned buildings. Since then, the Housing First program has placed 60 families in homes costing as little as $4,000 a family.
PCEH is privately funded through individual donations as well as private companies. They are also looking into corporate funding, Lewis said.
“We’re so grateful to ATO for raising money for PCEH. It’s so important to have students who are willing to work with the community,” Lewis said.
The fraternity plans to make this fundraiser their signature event which they intend to hold for years to come, Hapenovich said.
“We [Greek life] don’t always have the best reputation. It’s a very visible fundraiser, so the students can see it, the faculty can see it, the community can see it,” Hapenovich said. “Fraternities can have a positive influence on the community. All Greek life can.”
ATO has also participated in Push-Ups for Prostate Cancer, the Memory Walk for the Alzheimer’s Association and recently volunteered to hand out candy at the Philadelphia Zoo for the Boo at the Zoo event in October 2007.
“I want other people to help out after us when we’re not doing anything so homeless people have something going for them all year round,” said Phil Raskovich, a sophomore finance major.