Fredonia - 'Tis the season to be giving, and for the past 12 years the Iota chapter of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity of SUNY Fredonia has taken this to heart - and feet - by raising awareness and money for the charity, YouthAIDS with its annual Tree Trot for YouthAIDS.
The fundraiser features a Christmas tree being carried, on foot, from SUNY Fredonia all the way to Lafayette Square in downtown Buffalo. This year's event is Saturday, Dec 7 and will mark the 13th annual Tree Trot for YouthAIDS held by the fraternity.
The journey is a daunting 42 miles and includes all 39 members of the Fredonia chapter. The group will run north to Dunkirk and follow Route 5 all the way to Buffalo. They will arrive at Lafayette Square at approximately at 3:30 p.m., culminating the 12-hour run for charity. The 4 to 5-foot tree, donated by Tuscany Market in the village of Fredonia, will be carried in a relay fashion by four members at a time. The tree will be donated to a needy family in the Buffalo area.
In the past, Sigma Phi Epsilon has raised $2,000 to $3,000 for this cause. Donations are still being accepted, and are usually secured from private individuals and businesses in Fredonia, Dunkirk and across Western New York.
"What better way to create awareness for a great cause than have a group of young men run from Fredonia to Buffalo carrying a Christmas tree," said SUNY Fredonia Chapter President Matthew Sabul.
YouthAIDS is the national charity for Sigma Phi Epsilon, to which all chapters of the fraternity donate.
YouthAIDS has worked in over 60 countries, with programs tailored to each individual country. A $10 donation helps provide a youth with a year of health products, services and education, as well as products to protect against HIV. Some countries, such as Botswana, have populations that are over 40 percent HIV positive. Members of the fraternity have worked with the coordinators for volunteer and community service organizations every semester. The goal for Sigma Phi Epsilon is to work with local groups, like the Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA), in their quest to help kids who reside in a home with no adult care or supervision.
Individuals who wish to donate to the YouthAIDS organization or Tree Trot for YouthAIDS can do so online through the organization's website, www.youthaids.org, or by contacting Sigma Phi Epsilon's Vice President of Finance Phil Frankino by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 716-228-9617.