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Phi Gamma Delta competes to donate books to Africa

November 6, 2011

MSU’s chapter of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity was the first student group out of approximately 100 competing groups across the country to donate 100 books to Books for Africa, the world’s largest shipper of donated books to the African continent through the Course Hero Knowledge Drive.

For every 10 documents that a group uploaded to Course Hero, a social learning network for college students, the company would donate a book to the Books for Africa charity. The website allows students to upload files for study guides, notes and assignments to share with other students nationwide, said Brandon Styles, director of campus programs at Course Hero.

“(Course Hero is) mainly meant for students to use for collaboration forums,” he said. “It’s almost like taking a study group online.”

The Course Hero Knowledge Drive, a partnership charity event between Course Hero Inc. and Books for Africa, challenged student groups across the country to raise the books for donation by uploading the most files to the website in the fastest time. The event started in mid-September, and Phi Gamma Delta was the first group to reach the goal of 100 books donated, Styles said.

“It definitely speaks loudly to them as a group,” he said. “(Fraternities) have been accused of just doing community service that’s easy or mundane, like a car wash. This was definitely a new age way of making an impact on an international basis.”The entire challenge has raised more than 22,000 books that will be sent to Gambia in February, Styles said. Low literacy rates in Africa result from not having enough capital, he said.

“The literacy rate drops off at a pretty young age, pretty much around 6th or 7th grade,” Styles said. “They do not have the resources to afford actual books in their libraries and pencils and paper and things like that.”

Human biology junior Daniel McAree said he got his fraternity involved with the challenge because it was an easy and unique way to contribute to charity.

“I was like, ‘Wow, that’s the perfect way to get college kids involved,’” said McAree, Phi Gamma Delta’s philanthropy chairman. “They have a ton of study guides and notes they can post.”

Most of the duration of the four week competition was spent spreading the word and getting people involved with the challenge, McAree said.

“It’s a pretty simple process actually,” he said. “I uploaded like 51 documents, and I think it took under 20 minutes.”

The fraternity uploaded more than 1,000 documents to Course Hero, resulting in the donation of 101 total books to the cause.

“This is really our third year on campus, so we really kind of wanted to do something positive for the community and make a good name for ourselves,” McAree said. “We found this to be a great opportunity to do that.”Civil engineering senior Haley Celovsky said the fraternity’s accomplishment says a lot about the type of people at MSU.

“It’s really cool that they were the first one in the nation to be able to accomplish that,” Celovsky said. “I know that fraternities are really into bonding activities and whatnot. It’s great … that it can be put toward a greater good.”

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