Sorority recipients of local Make a Difference Day award

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 26, 2003

While trying to decide what to do for a community service project, the members of Ohio University Southern's Gamma Beta Phi sorority realized that each of them had an old cell phone.

Instead of leaving them in junk drawers as many people do, the members put them to use.

The members of the academic sorority collected these and other old cell phones from others, which were reprogrammed for 911 use only. These phones were then distributed to domestic violence survivors at Helping Hands Haven, a local shelter.

Email newsletter signup

This was a project for Make A Difference Day on October 26, 2002, which is sponsored by USA WEEKEND Magazine. On this day, people and organizations from across the country participate in various volunteer projects, and three million people participated in thousands of service projects on that day.

For their work on this project, the members of Gamma Beta Phi have been awarded The Ironton Tribune's newspaper award, which is chosen amongst the Make A Difference Day projects of the readers of local newspapers that carry USA WEEKEND Magazine.

With their project that began in August 2002, the sorority managed to collect 28 cell phones that had chargers. Others with no charger were also collected, but they could not be used. Those with no charger were traded to a company for other services.

While the sorority was doing research work to determine what the best project would be, secretary Sandy Turvey met with Lawrence County Domestic Violence Task Force Coordinator Ruth Anne Delong, and Delong made the suggestion.

"Domestic violence is a problem," Turvey said. "I personally know some people affected by it."

"This provides security for the clients when they feel threatened," she said.

To collect the phones, some members sat all day on campus with a collection box, Turvey said.

Because of confidentiality issues, President Cathy Caproni said she did not get to meet any of the women who received the cell phones and does not know of any instances in which one of the cell phones was put to use. Knowing that they have the phones, however, is reassuring to the sorority, she said.

Past President Khristeena Howard was pleased by the work.

"It was a wonderful way of recycling something that people don't use. Everyone has them at some point," she said."

Before she began doing volunteer work, Caproni believed that it would be too time-consuming. Now, she has dubbed herself "the Volunteer Queen."

"I enjoy everything and enjoy the great opportunity to get out and help," she said.

This is one of several community service projects done by the sorority, which include raffling a St. Patrick's Day basket for the Bicentennial Fund, helping with the Acord Horse Show for disabled children and the Ohio River Festival of Books, collecting items to send to troops overseas and taking trips to the Dominican Republic and Mexico to bring school supplies to children.

"In the Dominican Republic, children were having to break crayons into pieces," Turvey said. "We love to see the faces of the people we service and help."

When she learned the sorority was receiving The Ironton Tribune's award, Caproni said she was excited to have the group recognized and was looking forward to putting the award in the sorority's scrapbook to take to the national convention in Nashville in January.

Even though Make A Difference Day was in October, the sorority continued its cell phone collections and is still accepting them. Caproni and Turvey will graduate from OUS in June, but not all of the other members are graduating. Caproni said she hopes the remaining members will continue the sorority's projects.