The Greek system at Southeast Missouri State University is trying to show the community this week that there's more to Greek life than parties and beer.
For the start of Greek Week, hundreds volunteered at the Family Fun Fair Sunday at Arena Park, while several others collected canned food items around town.
Junior Stephanie Carter, a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, said the week brings all of the Greek chapters together to help the community and also have some fun.
"Some people have the misconception that Greek life is all about partying," she said. "This week shows we can have fun, but still balance it with community service. It's a long and hard week, but the means are worth the end."
Throughout the week fraternity and sorority members raise money for the Area Wide United Way and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Southeast Missouri, collect canned food items for the Salvation Army and put in hundreds of hours of community service by volunteering at the Family Fun Fair, Red Cross blood drive and Special Olympics.
Last year the Greeks raised more than $20,000, 15,000 cans of food, 469 pints of blood and put in 2,500 hours of community service.
They have already raised 557 pints of blood and collected 14,258 cans of food this year.
Sean Fitzsimmons, a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, said it's important for the community to see the service projects the Greeks do, not only during Greek Week, but all year.
"If you don't know anything about Greeks, all you see is what is in the movies and all you hear is bad stuff," he said. "This week the community can see we are more than that. We're doing something good."
Angie Underwood, a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority, said her favorite activity during the week is helping out with the Special Olympics. She and other Greeks serve as team leaders and encourage the children to do their best.
"It makes the kids so happy to see you are cheering for them," she said. "It just makes everything worthwhile knowing you are helping them feel good about themselves."
Always some rivalry
But the week isn't all about service. Throughout the week Greeks take part in several activities like a softball tournament, day of games and night of skits.
Lindsay Piel, also a member of Tri Delta, said the week wouldn't be complete without a some good old-fashioned competition.
"There's always going to be some rivalry between chapters," she said. "The competition is definitely there, but in the end everyone wants to have a good time, so you cheer everyone on and support each other, regardless of what chapter you belong to."
Greek Week will wrap up Saturday at the All Greek Chapter Meeting at Academic Hall. At the meeting chapters, advisors and individual students will be recognized for the academic achievements and leadership contributions.
Patty Hendrickson, the author of "Who I Am Depends on Me" and a motivational speaker, will be the keynote speaker for the event.
335-6611, extension 128