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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI Greek System participates in national fundraiser

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

Students hope to raise $50,000 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital -- Sending letters, saving lives

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 21, 2004 -- Sometimes small acts, such as addressing envelopes, can help save lives. Last month more than 125 students from eight sororities and four fraternities participated in the Up 'Til Dawn letter writing campaign for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, thanks to the efforts of URI junior Christina Mastrangelo.

The president-elect of the Panhellenic Council and sister of the Sigma Kappa Sorority got the idea to bring the program here after going to last year’s Northeast Greek Leadership Conference in Pittsburgh, Pa. She attended a lecture about the program and thought it would be great to implement it on campus. In June 2003, she and Brett Samuels, president of the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, traveled to Memphis, Tenn., for training and orientation at the hospital.

"Being around the children, hearing their stories, and seeing how the hospital changed their lives made me more passionate about the cause," she said.

When she returned to school in the fall, Mastrangelo and her Up 'Til Dawn executive board began advertising and planning for the campaign. Sophomore Kristen Gelnett and freshman Kristen Murray, who Mastrangelo credited as being "instrumental" in the success of the program, helped plan, advertise, and gather donations from local businesses for the charity.

Beginning in January, students signed up for the campaign in teams of six, and on March 23 each participant brought 50 addresses to the Memorial Union Ballroom to fill out the pre-written letters, asking recipients to make a donation to the hospital.

The University of Rhode Island is one of more than 100 schools participating in the program. Approximately 3,800 letters from URI were sent; and with an average donation of $20 Mastrangelo hopes the event will raise $50,000 for the hospital.

Sandra Hackett, the Event Marketing Representative for the hospital was thrilled about the success of the event. "Up ‘Til Dawn at URI was a great experience that we hope becomes a tradition."

Currently the vice president of recruitment for the Panhellenic Council, Mastrangelo held a smaller version of the campaign during last fall’s formal sorority recruitment. The prospective new members filled out more than 400 letters and raised $6,500 for the hospital.

A celebration marking the event’s success will be held on May 4, from 5 to 10 p.m. In the future, as student participation grows, so will the party, one that will keep those involved "up ‘til dawn." The carnival-style celebration, where Mastrangelo expects battle-of-the-bands and a St. Jude’s patient speaker will take place in front of the Memorial Union and in the ballroom. All of the fraternity and sorority participants are encouraged to attend.

"The Greeks were really instrumental in seeing stuff happen," said Hackett. "I am so thankful that they embraced the program."

Mastrangelo, a native of Bronx, N.Y., plans on running the event again in the fall, and hopes that students outside of the Greek system take part. "I want people to understand that it is not that hard to make a difference."

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is one of the world’s premier centers for the research and treatment of childhood diseases, primarily pediatric cancer. Since it opened in 1962, it has treated more than 19,000 patients from across the United States and from more than 60 countries. Currently, there are 4,300 patients in active treatment.

For more information about the Up 'Til Dawn program contact Christina.