By Jenna Pierson
The Sigma Alpha Mu (ΣΑΜ) fraternity held a petting zoo May 1 on McKeldin Mall.
Students paid $5 to interact with various farm animals at the Sigma Alpha Zoo, relax between classes and donate to a cause. It ended up being the fraternity’s largest philanthropic event of the year.
Donations went to the Judy Fund, an organization that raises money for Alzheimer’s Disease research.
“We are a relatively new fraternity and we’re kind of small,” ΣΑΜ President Harry Huntley said. “Up until recently, we didn’t have a philanthropy chair…so after lots of research on unique events, he gave us this idea.”
Dozens of excited participants roamed spent time with animals including llamas, donkeys, goats, sheep and bunnies.
“We chose Leesburg Animal Park, which is located less than 45 minutes away from here and takes great care of their animals,” said Huntley.
There were trained professionals at the event to help participants with holding techniques and to make sure the animals had plenty of water, even in the sun.
“We have had other events in which we give back, like working for food banks in the community,” ΣΑΜ member Nikhail Goyal said. “Being new on campus, we are glad to have established philanthropic work through the national organization that all of our chapters are involved with, and we hope to continue this event in the future.”
Several members of SAM have personal connections to Alzheimer’s Disease through loved ones and felt very passionate about the Judy Fund.
“We see lots of negative stories across the nation about fraternities, and I think it really is because some have drifted away from their roots,” Huntley said. “We want to set a great example and we want to further cement philanthropy as an essential pillar of Greek life.”
The Judy Fund has raised $7.9 million for Alzheimer’s Research since its establishment in 2003, according to its website.
“This is great for stress relief,” said Sigma Kappa Sorority President Maria Janush. “We’re getting closer to finals, and taking a break from classes to just chill out with all these cute animals, while supporting a cause, is awesome.”