When Kirsten Brown took on the task of coming up with a major community benefit event - one of her main duties as treasurer of the Greek Life Fraternity and Sorority Council at UC Merced - she put the pieces together quickly.
"The university is always supporting higher learning opportunities," Brown said. "I thought I would try to help the Merced County Library fund their children's literacy programs. The best way to improve learning is getting children to read more when they are younger."
To engage the community as well as the campus, Brown and her team have organized the first-ever Laps for Literacy 5K Walk/Run. The event will start at 11 a.m. March 12 in the Open Air Theater in Applegate Park in Merced. Registration is open. ( https://intelforms.ucmerced.edu/Form/Literacy )
Adults , who pay a $10 registration fee to benefit the cause, will receive commemorative T-shirts. K-12 students can participate for free, and each will receive a free book while supplies last.
"During the event we will also be having a lot of vendors, activity booths and live entertainment for everyone to enjoy," Brown said.
Brown, a 20-year-old from Los Angeles majoring in economics and management , has coordinated the efforts of seven students on the event committee and worked with community members to prepare for the big day. Planning began in November.
"The Merced Parks Department has been very helpful," Brown explained."The library is very excited about our event and completely supportive of our goals. We hope to be great partners with them in years to come."
Brown is already preparing to hand off her files to the council's next treasurer so the Laps for Literacy run can become another UC Merced tradition.
Fraternities and sororities at UC Merced are establishing a strong foundation in community service. The annual Greek Week and Be a Greater Greek Week each dedicate an entire day to philanthropy. Students this year volunteered at the Hampshire Independent Living Home and at Last Hope Cat Kingdom; they also walked in the Merced Veterans' Day Parade.
"With the recent fire at the Cat Kingdom we are going to try to plan another philanthropy event to help raise money for them to rebuild," Brown said.
Another Greek Week event is a T-shirt sale. The winner of the sportsmanship award donates the proceeds to the charitable group of its choice. This year, Kappa Sigma won the award and will be able to donate $1,000.
"As a member of Greek Life at UC Merced, community service is a top priority for me," Brown said. "Having a strong community allows for growth and motivates people to have pride in their town. And I get greater satisfaction from helping out than from concentrating only on my own needs."