Sorority to donate to local children in need


Members of Alpha Sigma Omega Latina Sorority Incorporated pose for a photo during the gift collection for their Angel Tree event in December 2016.

By Sara Rasmussen

DeKALB — Members of Alpha Sigma Omega Latina Sorority Incorporated are aiming to give hope to children in DeKalb homeless shelters during the holidays.

The sorority is hosting its annual Angel Tree event to give gifts to children in need. The event allows individuals in the community to sponsor a child in a homeless shelter and purchase gifts for Christmas.

Alpha Sigma Omega Latina Sorority Incorporated started the Angel Tree event in 2010 and is working with Safe Passage and Hope Haven DeKalb, 1145 Rushmore Drive, this year to provide gifts for children in need. Sorority members asked the community to help sponsor each child in need.

Jennifer Zarate, Alpha Sigma Omega Latina Sorority Incorporated philanthropy chair and secretary, said there are about 25 kids on the wish list for people to sponsor. Zarate is running the event this year with her chapter.

There are nearly 50 sponsors for children at Safe Passage in addition to 10 Hope Haven sponsors.

“We try to get [the organizations] two sponsors per child, that way they have a more variety of gifts,” Zarate said.

The gifts from the sponsors will be collected Friday night at the Holmes Student Center bus turnaround and distributed to the children the following day.

Alpha Sigma Omega Latina Sorority Incorporated has Christmas trees for their event displayed in the Latino Resource Center. The trees are decorated with angel ornaments, each one representing a child in need of a sponsor.

“Giving back to the community is something that me and my sisters truly believe in, and being able to give these kids a gift…means a lot,” Zarate said.

The sorority is donating toiletries to Hope Haven for those in need of them, as well.

“We appreciate the compassion we receive over the holidays, and we all feel strongly that every child deserves a gift at Christmas time,” said Lesly Wicks, Hope Haven executive director.

“Just to see how happy [the children] are, it means a lot for us,” Zarate said.

The event gives children the opportunity to receive gifts when their families are not able to provide.

“It gathers the community together, and it’s not just benefitting us,” Zarate said. “The most important thing for us is to help out these kids and promote what Alpha Sigma Omega is all about.”

Amanda Abarca, Alpha Sigma Omega Latina Sorority Incorporated member, said the Christmas lists for the sponsored children differ greatly from those of most individuals.

“Every kid’s dream is to wake up with a bunch of presents, but if you see kids and their wish list, it’s not like they want an XBox or they want a Nintendo GS,” Abarca said. “All they want is, you know, socks, like clothes, and a jacket or a blanket. Something that is like necessary.”

Abarca said this initiative is one of her favorite events with her sorority.

“It feels so great to give back to these kids,” Abarca said. “Like, you don’t get to see them physically because it’s under, like, privacy…but just to give the gift that you’re giving … it’s really heartwarming.”