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UT Fraternity Gives Hospital an Assisting Hand

Published: April 30, 2009

They live by the motto, “the assisting hand.” And every Friday, that is what they offer.

For more than six years, members of The University of Tampa’s Theta Chi fraternity have gathered on Fridays at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Tampa to play games and visit with the children who are patients in the hospital’s Child Life Therapy Department.

Since the UT chapter was founded in 2002, the brothers’ visits to the hospital have served as a welcome treat for the children, many of whom are in the hospital recovering from physical illnesses and injuries.

“The children at Shriners Hospitals deserve the world and we do what little we can to show them just how significant an impact they can make,” said Jake Hightower, a UT senior and public relations chair for Theta Chi. “They’re always up for having a great time with us. We’re notorious for longstanding games of Uno, Mario Kart, pool and foosball.”

In addition to their regular Friday visits, Theta Chi members are also tasked with helping coordinate two of the hospital’s annual social events for the children – the “Halloween Bash,” in which Theta Chi members buy costumes for the children and take them trick-or-treating, and the “Shriners Prom.”

The latter event, which this year takes place on April 30, includes all the elements of a traditional high school prom, with children dressing up for an evening of dancing and games.

The fraternity has helped host the prom in collaboration with the hospital in years past. However, this year, Theta Chi alone was responsible for all fundraising and planning for the event. Individual fraternity members offered donations which totaled more than $500 to fund food and supplies for the prom.

“This year, we have taken it upon ourselves to bring our members, friends and D.J. for free and garner as many free donations as possible for the event,” Hightower said. “We have done and are currently working on more fundraisers in which profits go directly to Shriners Hospital.”

As a nonprofit international health care organization, Shriners Hospitals rely on the help of volunteer groups to provide the much-needed therapeutic services to the child patients.

“The relationships the children get to develop with the students are very beneficial for the children as well as the students themselves,” said Beth Demas, director of Public Relations for the Tampa Shriners Hospital.

She added that it is fitting for Theta Chi to volunteer its time at the Shriners Hospital, because the Shriners International is a fraternal organization.

“I think Theta Chi has led the way as far as volunteer groups in that they have had a substantial presence and demonstrated a commitment to volunteering for several years now,” she said.