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The Triangle - The Independent Student Newspaper at Drexel University

Charity event benefits HIV/AIDS victims

Brothers from Delta Epsilon Psi fraternity volunteered April 26 for Dining Out for Life, a fundraiser started by the ActionAIDS organization, which raises money to help support people living with HIV or AIDS.

Serving as “ambassadors,” 10 brothers from the fraternity were spread throughout the city at various participating restaurants to answer questions about ActionAIDS, collect donations and thank patrons for dining out and supporting the cause. As part of the cause, participating restaurants donated 33 percent of that day’s proceeds directly to ActionAIDS.

“Ambassadors are vital to the success of this event,” Justin Gero, communications associate for ActionAIDS, wrote in an email. “They are able to answer questions about the event and where the money goes.”

Delta Epsilon Psi participates in various service events throughout the year. Having volunteered for a walkathon hosted previously by ActionAIDS, the fraternity became more interested in helping out the cause and asked the brothers if any would be interested in helping Dining Out for Life.

As ambassadors for the event, the 10 brothers split up between four different restaurants throughout the city and were stationed at a table set up with information about ActionAIDS. They were readily available to answer questions posed from the dining patrons.

Vikas Bhatt, a third-year biology major and Delta Epsilon Psi brother, volunteered during dining hours for the event at the Perch Pub located at 13th and Locust streets

“It’s actually cool,” Bhatt said. “A lot of people that we’ve talked to, if we especially ask, ‘Are you aware that it’s Dining Out for Life?’ they’re like, ‘Yeah, that’s the reason we came out!’ It’s just good to hear that a lot of people are coming out to support the cause.”

According to Bhatt, not all of the patrons were aware of the event when they arrived at the restaurant.

“Once they hear about it they are very excited to learn more, and they ask questions like, ‘Oh, what’s ActionAIDS? What is Dining Out for Life?’” he said.

Though this was the first year Delta Epsilon Psi assisted with Dining Out for Life, members of the fraternity said that they plan to make this an annual reoccurrence. As their biggest event this term, they saw this as a unique opportunity to help out and take part in something that not many people from Drexel were doing.

“It’s good to take part in events that are fighting for other people’s philanthropies,” Bhatt said.

Dining Out for Life takes place every year, usually around the last week of April. This year over 200 restaurants throughout Philadelphia and Delaware County participated in the event, which is also spread throughout 53 cities in North America. The event raises about $4 million annually.

Well-known restaurants in University City that participated in the event included Pod, Distrito and Lemon Grass Thai.

“Events like Dining Out for Life become more vital as pressure has grown to cut government budgets. Fundraising events like this become essential to continuing [the ActionAIDS] services,” Gero said.

Volunteers founded ActionAIDS in 1986 and continue to be the basis of the organization, vital to its continuum and success. Their mission statement reads, “ActionAIDS believes that no one should face AIDS alone,” and because its staff consists mostly of volunteers, the organization continues to uphold this statement.

According to Bhatt, the volunteering process isn’t hard to complete.

“All you have to do is go on their website, and they have a section that says volunteer, and you can volunteer on an ongoing basis. They have one-on-one mentoring [programs] with people that are diagnosed with the disease. Or they can volunteer for events like Dining Out for Life,” he said.

ActionAIDS is the largest service organization in Pennsylvania. The nonprofit organization provides various high-quality services such as counseling, care outreach, family programs, housing services, education and testing.

Dining Out for Life was started in 1991 as a way for ActionAIDS to help fund and create programs that would benefit the HIV and AIDS community. This year marked the 22ndanniversary of the event.