Worcester Families Benefit at Holidays from WPI Fraternity's Donations to Friendly House

Lambda Chi Alpha brothers Sean Philbrook, a junior chemical engineering major, and Nick Dilullo, a senior biology major, stand over the bags of food donations to be given to Friendly House community center in Worcester.

WORCESTER, Mass. – Dec. 18, 2008 – In keeping with a holiday tradition, the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) Pi Zeta chapter of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity recently donated 145,960 pounds of food to Worcester-based Friendly House community center. This not only surpasses last year’s donation by 13,000 pounds, but it has also assisted more of the Worcester families that benefit from Friendly House. Through their generous donations this year, Pi Zeta members have helped feed more than 4 percent of the city’s population. The donations place WPI’s chapter at third out of the amount of donations collected by the fraternity’s 193 chapters across the United States and Canada.

The fraternity’s 60-plus brothers visited more than 10,000 homes throughout Worcester on Nov. 8 and dropped off donation bags with fliers to encourage contributions. The following Saturday, the brothers returned to collect the bags filled with nourishing food for Worcester’s lower-income families. Everything from canned goods and pasta to baby food was collected. Monetary donations were also mailed to the fraternity by numerous city residents. The Worcester Sharks hockey team and Worcester County Sheriff Guy W. Glodis’s office also aided with garnering food donations. While the fraternity has completed its official “food-raising,” donations continue to pour in, and those will be applied toward the December holiday season. In the past 16 years the fraternity has run this drive, it has given 1,145,283 pounds of food to Friendly House thanks to generous donations.

The brothers of Lambda Chi Alpha at WPI pose with the thousands of pounds of food to be donated to Friendly House, a community center in Worcester.

“We plan to help Friendly House and the Sheriff’s Department with their toy and winter clothing drive as well,” said WPI junior Arie Vilders, class board president, and vice president of WPI’s Pi Zeta chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha.

Friendly House is a multi-service community center at 36 Wall St., founded in 1920 to fill the educational, recreational, and social service needs of Worcester’s Grafton Hill neighborhood. Today, it offers a variety of programs for low- to moderate-income residents of Worcester County. WPI students, faculty, and staff have been involved with Friendly House for 40 years, providing volunteer services, running student mentoring programs, and organizing food drives.

 The annual “Spirit of Giving Tree” toy drive culminated with a Dec. 12 delivery of gifts to Friendly House and Catholic Charities of Worcester. “Each year, the WPI community continues to outshine itself with their generosity and commitment to the ‘Spirit of Giving’ program,” said Jonathan Sparling, graduate assistant in WPI’s Student Activities Office. “After an incredible showing last year, when 125 children were ‘adopted,’ the WPI community once again stepped up and ‘adopted’ a record 133 children who benefit from the services of Friendly House and Catholic Charities.”

On the truck bed, Lambda Chi Alpha brothers Arie Vilders, left, and Rob McNamee, right, both junior mechanical engineering majors, hand down bags of food to sophomore Mark Marchand.

In addition to food drives and the “Spirit of Giving Tree,” WPI student project teams, led by faculty advisors, have assisted Friendly House with the design and plans for a new energy-efficient building and recommendations for parking, developed efficiency-based space and work-flow plans, and managed the installation of a new computer system. The computer project saved Friendly House thousands of dollars while providing WPI students with a rigorous academic experience. Furthermore, for the past decade, a program called “Exploradreams” has offered Friendly House youth ages 8-13 with mentoring, tutoring, and early exposure to college life. Through this program, WPI students have the opportunity to share their exceptional math and science skills with children, and bond with them through learning and recreational activities. At weekly sessions on campus, WPI students tutor Friendly House kids, play math or spelling games with them, or help them with their homework. “Exploradreams” and the “RoboKids” program give Friendly House students the chance to explore educational activities outside of the classroom.

December 7, 2008

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