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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Fraternity raises aid for victims of tragedy

Two members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity had a thousand-dollar idea to benefit the victims of the Tucson shooting and the 27,000 people waiting in line to attend the “”Together We Thrive”” memorial service on Jan. 12.  

Ray Holmgren, the president of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and a student majoring in psychology and communications, noticed the line of thousands of people as he and a fraternity brother were leaving the Student Recreation Center.

“”We saw the line going all the way down Sixth Street,”” he said. Holmgren realized that someone “”could make a lot of money if they sold something to those people.”” He returned to his fraternity and put the plan into action. Pi Kappa Alpha made a trip to Costco where they purchased 1,000 water bottles.

Ten to 15 of the fraternity members began handing out the water bottles for free at around 1 p.m., asking only for voluntary donations to be forwarded to the Tucson Tragedy Victims’ Fund.

The men returned to their fraternity house with $1,382 donations from people waiting in line.  

“”I was proud of the Tucson citizens because they were helping out so generously and showing their support,”” Holmgren said.

Pi Kappa Alpha’s community service chairman, Steven Ross Spithogiannis, helped to give out the water bottles. “”People waiting in the line were getting anxious, a lot of them had been out there since 4:30 in the morning,”” said Spithogiannis, who had initially planned on attending the memorial himself.

“”We were all just wearing our fraternity shirts and some people thought we were taking the money for ourselves,”” he said. “”People would say things like, ‘They’re going to scalp us,’ or thinking they were going to be robbed.””

Other people, Spithogiannis said, thanked them for doing such a great thing for the victims. Spithogiannis added that people gave donations from as much as $5 to $20 for a single water bottle.

“”Through our funding we’re not allowed to charge any administrative fees. Every single one of Pi Kappa Alpha’s dollars is going to those families,”” said Lucas Johnson, a victim advocate and the administrative assistant at the Tucson Tragedy Victims’ Fund.

The non-profit organization meets with the families of the murder victims and with the victims who were injured. They then distribute the money depending on the families’ needs.

“”We’re gonna be covering medical expenses, loss of wages, funeral expenses, and mental health expenses if they need any counseling after that,”” Johnson said.

Johnson emphasized the breadth of needs that these funds serve.

“”Other things these funds can also go to are travel or food and lodging expenses while relatives of the deceased or victims are traveling where the hearings are for criminal charges and trials. They have a right to be present,”” he said. “”We are non-profit, so we can usually get hotel room donations and be able to give them money for other things like food or travel expenses.””

Spithogiannis, who is from New York, said that this sort of tragedy reminds him of 9/11.

“”It was just awesome to see people in the area where you live or are currently located work together, regardless of what political view you have,”” Spithogiannis said. “”It was a day where everyone was looking out for each other.””

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