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By Stephen Wilson

Good deeds aren’t always rewarded. 

But that’s OK. 

The feeling from doing good deeds should be reward enough.

That was the lesson as nearly 50 members of the 2019 pledge class from Alpha Phi Omega (APO) service fraternity welcomed two fourth-grade classes from March Elementary to campus.

Together the students talked about service, read a book, decorated bags, and stuffed those bags full of donated items for Third Street Alliance for Women and Children.

Sarina Krantzler ’20, vice president of membership and pledge master, helped oversee the event. At her side was APO President Alisha Gangadharan ’21.

“The pledge class worked together to create a service project,” says Gangadharan. “For many, this was the first college event they were tasked to organize, so there is a lot to figure out. I am always impressed with how they’re able to use their strengths to accomplish that.”

Gangadharan has been on the board for two years and was involved in the rebirth of APO.

Lafayette’s APO was the Alpha Chapter, founded at the College in 1925. It fell inactive and was revived and rechartered in 2018. Since then, APO has been active at discovering local needs and working on a variety of student-driven service projects with specific focuses, often collaborating with Landis Center for Community Engagement.

“Today is my favorite part of the process,” she says. “Watching it all come together and seeing our new members feel accomplished and proud of what they put forth.”

Fourth graders select items for their donation bagsThat’s where Krantzler comes in. She has helped the pledge class along the way with formation of committees to ensure campus-wide donation collections, collaboration with Landis Center and the principal of March Elementary School, and generally overseeing the progress to encourage new members to take pride in all of the hard work and effort they had expended on their hallmark project.

“One person cannot accomplish an event of this scale on their own,” she says. “This event was successful and enjoyable because every single member was on board, and because we all recognize the importance of giving back to our community and educating the youngest members of our generation on how to get involved.”

Fourth grade student completes his worksheet about the storyAs nearly 50 elementary kids strolled into the recreation room at Kirby Sports Center, pledges were ready, breaking the students into groups. Group leaders led discussions on helping others and if rewards were necessary.

From there, the groups came together and listened as new pledge class members read the book Three Questions, based on a short story by Leo Tolstoy. The main character, Nikolai, wants to become a good person and has to learn the answers to three questions:

  1. What is the best time to do things?
  2. Who is the most important one?
  3. What is the right thing to do?

Over the course of the story, Nikolai learns the answers:

  1. When help is needed
  2. The person you are with 
  3. The thing the person you are with needs at that moment

Students returned to their groups to answer questions about the book and began to decorate a bag with pictures and messages. They then filled the bag with items for donation—more than 100 pounds of personal hygiene products.

All then reflected on what they had made to donate, realizing it will help others in ways they can’t yet realize, and simply won’t need to be rewarded for.

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