Members of Alpha Phi Alpha and Alpha Kappa Alpha look on as a child affected by sickle cell anemia receives a Christmas present.
Photo by Jason Lewis
By Jason Lewis
One in every 400 African Americans has sickle cell anemia, but raising awareness for the disease has become increasingly tough, which means that funding is hard to come by, and even worse, finding African American blood donors has become a major issue.
Mary E. Brown, President & CEO of the Sickle Cell Disease Foundation of California, said because the foundation does not get much support from the government, this year they did not have the resources to give back to families that are in need during this holiday season.
That is where members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity’s Beta Psi Lambda Chapter (Los Angeles) and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s Tau Tau Omega Chapter (Santa Monica) stepped in.
The fraternity and sorority purchased presents, decorations, and served lunch to families who are affected by sickle cell. The children had smiles on their faces as they received presents from Santa Clause and they felt grateful to have a Christmas party given in their honor.
This event was a way for the Alpha Phi Alpha and Alpha Kappa Alpha to give back to the community.
Alpha Kappa Alpha has a health initiative through their Global Leadership Through Timeless Service program.
“We have a new international program that aims to bring attention to diseases that disoppropately affects the African American community,” said Mary Davis, President of the Tau Tau Omega Chapter. “This event provided an opportunity for the Chapter to get involved.”
Tau Tau Omega Chapter used funds from their 20 Pearls Foundation to purchase gifts and decorations.
“The foundation is proud to support the Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation, which aims to enhance the lives of children that suffer from this terrible disease,” said Rasheeda Gardner, Vice President of Tau Tau Omega.
Sickle Cell has affected one member of Alpha Phi Alpha’s Beta Psi Lambda Chapter. Chris Olphin, who crossed at Omicron Eta (UC Irvine, currently in a USC graduate program), has the disease, so members of the Chapter are aware of how this disease can affect African Americans.
“It’s very important that we take care of our own,” said Damon Oliver, Beta Psi Lambda Chapter Social Chairman. “When you see what these beautiful children and their families go through, it’s the least that we can do.”
In the past Beta Psi Lambda has participated in a blood drive for sickle cell with the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Realizing the lack of awareness, members of the Chapter wanted provide for families in need while bringing to light the importance of this disease.
Dorsey high school was gracious enough to open their doors to Alpha Phi Alpha and Alpha Kappa Alpha for this event, and they provided students to help put this event on.
“I want to give Dorsey a positive light and let people know that we have a lot of kids who are committed to community service,” said Dr. Reginald Sample, Principal of Dorsey high school and also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha. “Not only are they intelligent individuals, they are passionate and they care deeply about themselves as a culture, but they are also hone to giving back. A lot of times you hear negative press about the school. But I want to be able to showcase the positive things that we do on campus.”
The students who lent a hand were from the school’s leadership group. This group is the voice of the student body, and they serve on committees when there are shared decisions with the school’s administrations.
This was a total group effort by four organizations to make this Christmas party happen. Events like this are extremely important to help treat this disease. The problem with treating sickle cell is finding the right match, because many people do not step forward to donate blood. African American children need blood donated by other African Americans.
Contrary to belief, donating blood is not painful at all, and it only takes a few minutes. There are many children who are in serious pain. A prick that you will feel for only a split second could take their pain away.
To help support the Sickle Cell Disease Foundation of California, contact them at (310) 693-0247, or visit their website at www.scdfc.org.
Alpha Phi Alpha’s Beta Psi Lambda Chapter can be contacted through their website. www.BetaPsiLambda.com
Alpha Kappa Alpha’s Tau Tau Omega Chapter can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.