How often do you see 19 student organizations come together to conduct a sold-out throwback-themed performance for a two-day, event-competition? If you say more than once per semester, then you should definitely let the rest of us know what your house parties look like.
Airbands is Gamma Phi Beta’s biggest philanthropy event of the year, and according to Philanthropy Chair Hanna Marcus, it’s actually one of the largest international fundraising events the chapter hosts.
“Giving people the opportunity to help is a really important cause. A lot of little actions combined has the potential to make such a big impact, and Airbands really does speak to that,” said the junior strategic and corporate communication major.
On Oct. 7, the Monday tickets were released for purchase, Gamma Phi Beta sold out their Friday and Saturday night showings within three hours, racking up to a total of about 1,000 tickets. Marcus was anticipating a healthy response from the student body, but couldn’t believe they would be gone by noon given that last year it had taken the sorority until Wednesday to sell out those same showings. What’s more, she recalled sorority representatives lining up to, in colloquial terms, call dibs on the throwback theme they were tasked to create a performance around.
“The time was set for 5 p.m. in the student union, and I started getting texts at 2 p.m. saying, ‘Hanna, girls are already lining up. Your face has been posted in multiple pages; people are on the lookout for you because they want to get you first,’” Marcus said. “It was crazy, it was celebrity level.”
The event stood out to Marcus in 2017 as a highlight introduction into Greek Life. She had attended Airbands for the mystery of what the showing held for freshmen like her.
“I had no idea what it was and I was so blown away by the performance,” Marcus said. “So that definitely stuck with me through the recruitment process and then I just remember thinking, ‘What? That’s so cool.’”
Now, two years later after having served as philanthropy assistant and currently as philanthropy chairwoman, Marcus said she’s had people come up to her and thank her for opening their eyes to the impact the chapter has created to forward the cause. Despite the amount of hours that go into preparation for the event – which she said she couldn’t begin to quantify – the result, the involvement from the student body and the money raised for Girls on the Run and Camp Del Corazon are all worth it. The profits, from fundraising to ticket sales and Greek Life entry fees into Airbands, are split 50/50 between these two organizations – which respectively integrates running to teach young girls about body positivity and respect, and which provides medically supervised summer camp experiences to children living with heart disease.
“It helps so many girls and really works to instill that female empowerment and that you can do anything,” Marcus said about Girls on the Run. “A handful of the girls in the chapter actually did it when they were young, so it’s really impactful to see how that’s with them today and how it’s probably going to be with them through the rest of their life.”
Marcus said there is more to Airbands than a display of Greek organizations competing against one another.
“It’s so special that Chapman Greek Life does have that philanthropic aspect and that we don’t just joke around. We really take these philanthropy events seriously because we are really inspired for the cause and to make that difference,” she said. “The fact that chapters start practicing 10 p.m. to midnight almost three weeks before the event just shows the dedication that goes into it.”
According to Marcus, these Greek organizations put hours into preparation and have helped raise over $25,000 in the process.
“It’s so rewarding and being in this position as philanthropy chair. I’m so honored to be able to spearhead this event that Chapman gets so incredibly hyped about,” she said. “I’ve always been very inspired to give back through community service and working with nonprofits, so anyway that I can help them or get others to help them is something I’m passionate about.”