Written by Ron Wagner

Greeks for Greenville Furman Greeks unite to support low income schools

Greeks for Greenville Furman Greeks unite to support by Ron Wagner

Story by Ron Wagner ’93
Photography by Jeremy Fleming ’08

If you find yourself a bit overwhelmed trying to comprehend the volume and variety of the philanthropy coming from Furman students, you’re not alone. Morgan Kuhar ’14 was perplexed too, and he was right in the thick of it while serving as president of Sigma Nu fraternity during his senior year.

Heller Service Corps sends more than half of the student body into the community to volunteer in some capacity. Meanwhile, every fraternity and sorority on campus is involved in its own individual service projects.

“I was thinking, it’s surprising how many avenues service goes,” Kuhar said.

So, naturally, he decided it was time to start another service organization. That idea sounds perplexing, but Kuhar, who was recently stationed in Seattle by the Navy as an intelligence officer, is pretty good at evaluating information.

His analysis of the crowded Furman philanthropy scene concluded results would be exceptional if the University’s many service organizations joined forces on a single project—specifically low-income schools within a five-mile radius of campus.

“We were kind of competing against each other in a way with all the philanthropic things everybody does,” the Augusta, Ga., native said. “So I suggested that we come together for a service project we could do collectively for one thing in Greenville each year.”

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After several meetings with Nancy Cooper, Furman’s coordinator for volunteer services, and Cameron Smith, then Furman’s Greek life advisor, Kuhar decided Alexander Elementary would be Greeks for Greenville’s maiden voyage.

In a time when public schools are increasingly being forced to come up with their own operational money, first-year principle Dr. Sonya Campbell’s back was against the wall when Kuhar approached her in the fall of 2013 asking what Greeks for Greenville could do for a place where 97 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Unsurprisingly, the list was long.

“Our fundraisers bring in $50,” she said. “We have really no way to bring in any type of funding . . . but to try and write grants, try to beg, try to get some partnerships.”

Kuhar and his fellow volunteers, representing every fraternity and sorority on campus, planted flowers, provided playground equipment and offered tutoring services. They even turned a featureless piece of asphalt into a basketball court colored with a map of the United States—right down to the capitals.

It turned out to be a special project...not only did they help beautify but help give us here at Alexander the identity of Alexander back. Dr. Sonya Campbell, Principal

“They really became a part of an everyday, ongoing (thing). It was not just, here are some school supplies and we didn’t see them again,” Campbell said. “It turned out to be a special project, a special partnership where not only did they help beautify but help give us here at Alexander the identity of Alexander back.”

Kuhar said his biggest hope is for Greeks for Greenville to become something schools can rely on every year, and that’s exactly what’s happening. As the new vice president of community relations for Furman’s Panhellenic board, Kimbell Dobbins’s duties include overseeing Greeks for Greenville, and one of the senior classics major’s first moves was to begin sponsoring Berea Middle School in addition to Alexander after she learned a church that had been giving Berea students backpacks of food for their families would no longer be able to help.

“I believe that their needs are very different, so it will be definitely a challenge,” she said. “But a good challenge.”