The Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity of SUNY Fredonia is seeking to raise awareness and money for Youth AIDS by trotting a Christmas tree all the way up to Buffalo on foot.
The fraternity's annual Tree Trot for Youth AIDS begins on campus this morning at the Williams Center at 6:30 a.m., and expects to make the journey through Dunkirk down Central Avenue then up Route 5 to Buffalo's Lafayette Square by 3:30 p.m.
The tree was donated by Tuscany Market in Fredonia and will be carried in a relay fashion by four members at a time of the group of all 40 members. Each group will run one and a half to two miles each of the 42-mile journey. The other members will rotate in and out of a vehicle accompanying the group. The tree will be donated to a needy family in the Buffalo area upon arrival.
The 12th annual Tree Trot for Youth AIDS will leave campus at 6:30 a.m. to begin its journey up Route 5 to Lafayette Square in Buffalo.
The run is now in its 12th year. Members of the fraternity have worked with the coordinators for volunteer and community service organizations every semester. The goal is for Sigma Phi Epsilon to work with local groups in order to raise money and continue this charitable cause.
The journey is a daunting 42 miles and includes all 40 members of the Fredonia chapter. The group will run north to Dunkirk and follow Route 5 all the way to Buffalo.
According to Cordell Jacobs Jr., Sigma Phi Epsilon vice president and programming director, thousands of dollars have been raised over the years through the Tree Trot for Youth AIDS. Donations are secured from private individuals and businesses in Fredonia, Dunkirk and other parts of Western New York.
"We wanted to show that our college fraternal organization really cares about this cause. The idea for Tree Trot for Youth AIDS came about because we wanted to do something to generate public awareness for this great organization," Jacobs said. "What better way to create awareness for a great cause than have a group of young men run from Fredonia to Buffalo carrying a Christmas tree?"
Youth AIDS is the national charity for Sigma Phi Epsilon to which all chapters of the fraternity donate. This charity has worked in over 60 countries, with programs tailored to each individual country. A $10 donation helps provide a youth with a year of health products, services and education, as well as products to protect against HIV. According to the fraternity's press release, in some countries, such as Botswana, over 40 percent of the population is HIV positive.
Individuals who wish to donate to the Youth AIDS organization or Tree Trot for Youth Aids can do so online through the organization's website, www.youthaids.orgor by contacting Sigma Phi Epsilon by email at Jaco0584@fredonia.edu or by phone at 347-721-8015.