DECATUR — Decatur resident Robert Collins stopped by the Phi Beta Sigma food distribution event on Saturday to get some items for Thanksgiving and other necessities.
“I used to go to church around here and I saw them handing out boxes of food,” Collins said. “God is good, these people are doing the best with what they have, and I thank them for helping me.”
The food was distributed by members of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity as well as others from the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity near the Habitat for Humanity building at 838 E. Wood St.
Ronnie Franklin, vice president of the local Phi Beta Sigma chapter, said the event was created to bring together Black Greek organizations as part of the Divine Nine — an organization consisting of Black fraternities and sororities and part of the National Pan-Hellenic Council — and to offer assistance to community members in need.
“This is our first year coming together as a collective with organizations and groups, and what we’re looking to do is simply be able to give back to the community,” Franklin said. “We want to show the community a unified front so that then the community sees that we are concerned about them and that we have representation here in Decatur.”
Franklin said since they chartered their chapter in Decatur last year they have been working with Habitat for Humanity on food giveaways, neighborhood cleanups and hosting their own programs like the Sigma Beta Club, in which the older fraternity members mentor the younger generation of Black men.
Receiving food items from the Northeast Community Fund, Franklin said they distributed 45 Thanksgiving baskets containing items such as whole turkey, bags of potatoes, fruits, eggs, butter and other essentials. Sixty-five baskets were also distributed Friday by members of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.
“It’s always good to have support for each organization, but it is exceptionally commendable for us to be able to come and work together,” said Denita Hentz, president of the Chi Xi Omega chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. “Though we may have different organizations, we’re still a team, and this is to help the community and provide our services as much as possible.”
Hentz said their organization’s principle is providing service to all mankind as sisters and making sure that community members have the resources they need to thrive as individuals.
The sorority sponsors activities that promote educational events on women’s health, recognition for caregivers and other health care providers, as well as offering assistance to high school students making the transition into college via scholarships and preparing them for the application process, Hentz said.
Kelsey Field, a member of the Upsilon Xi chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, said they uplift the community by focusing on leadership skills, special initiatives or programs and teaching high school students necessary skills to succeed as they go into college.
Serron Pettis, a senior at Millikin University and a member of the Theta Omicron chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, said he joined the fraternity to be part of something bigger and he loves to be in a group that finds ways to give back to one another.
“This is what we love to do, giving back to the community and making sure we have supplies and tools for those who don’t have them and who are in need during the holidays or regular seasons,” Pettis said. “We’re just trying to be another opportunity for those who don’t have different resources and things.”