GreekBuild hosts winter games to raise money, awareness

Jared Gilmour, Reporter

As Bienen sophomore Kristina Choo prepared for the GreekBuild Winter Olympics on Saturday with fellow members of Pi Beta Phi, she said she was not too worried about her competition.

“I’ve been scoping it out, and I think our Pi Phi team will come out on top,” she said as her team prepared for the relay race — a complex series of events including jumping rope, quickly putting on and taking off a basketball jersey and tossing bean bags.

The GreekBuild Winter Olympics, held in Patten Gymnasium on Saturday, brought together about 50 students from across fraternities and sororities to participate in events ranging from basketball to dodgeball to tug-of-war. GreekBuild raised about $500 to fund its partnership with Habitat for Humanity and other Chicago-area philanthropies.

This is the second year GreekBuild has hosted the event.

“Last year it ended up doing surprisingly well because we could call on all the chapters to come,” said Vikram Kulkarni, a Weinberg senior and GreekBuild vice president of philanthropy.

The Winter Olympics are part of GreekBuild’s effort to build its programming beyond just chapter-oriented events.

“We’re trying to expand philanthropy and service-wise,” Kulkarni said, adding that most of the events to fund GreekBuild right now are chapter-specific.

GreekBuild president Kallie Culbertson, a Weinberg junior, said the organization raises $20,000 to $30,000 a year to finance a Habitat for Humanity house they are building in Waukegan, Ill., with other universities and high schools. Founded in 2008, GreekBuild sends students up to Waukegan three times a quarter to work on the house.

Culbertson said she went up to work on the house last weekend.

“It was fun,” she said. “Cold — because we were outside — but really fun.”

GreekBuild has also been expanding beyond their partnership with Habitat for Humanity. The group goes to A Just Harvest soup kitchen in Chicago every other week and holds other service activities throughout the year.

The group also aims to help people from different chapters meet one another.

“We mix and match people on teams, so they get to meet new people,” Kulkarni said.

Different teams played against one another at five different stations, rotating to new stations and competing for prizes.

The games were not played without rewards. GreekBuild T-shirts and sunglasses, movie tickets and “Home Sweet Northwestern” mugs were all at stake.

Culbertson said the event was as well-attended as last year’s.

Though the Winter Olympics raised money for the group, Culbertson said more than anything the organization is trying to give people a better understanding of what GreekBuild is so more people will get involved.

“We’re trying to bring the Greek community together around one philanthropic goal,” Culbertson said