WALLA WALLA, Wash.-- The true beauty of the 2008 Mr. Whitman Contest can be seen in its winners. Although senior Kaston Griffin, the Phi Delta Theta nominee, walked away with the crown, the children of the Lake Nkuruba Orphanage Project in Uganda are the real winners.

 The women of Whitman’s Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority have sponsored the Mr. Whitman Contest for the past seven years to fund their philanthropy project. This year they hoped to raise $15,000 to pay the educational expenses of 156 AIDS orphans who live in Uganda at the Lake Nkuruba Orphanage Project. The contest raised $21,000--a number that both pleased and surprised everyone concerned, considering the current financial climate.

 Griffin raised more than $4,400 before the evening’s gala event began. The eight nominated men, four independents and one representative from each fraternity, are expected to complete most of the fundraising before the official Mr. Whitman Contest, and the category of fundraising carries a lot more weight than either the swim wear or talent portions. The final production, after the money is counted, is merely an entertaining celebration--one which drew a full house to Cordiner Hall on Nov. 14. Griffen was quoted in the Pioneer, the student newspaper, as putting it all in perspective: “There’s no need to promote myself as a winner because the only real winners in this situation are the orphans.”

 "I am so incredibly thankful and proud of each of the eight boys,” said Maryn Juergens, Kappa philanthropy chair.  “They made my job so easy; they really went above and beyond. I’m also proud of the community that came together and rallied around this event, not just the Whitman community, but the communities surrounding each of these boys. It is amazing how generous people are.”

 Philanthropy is an important element of Greek life at Whitman that is sometimes overlooked by those outside the Greek system, but for Juergens, it’s the “coolest part.” The Kappas’ other projects include reading to children at the Walla Walla Public Library on the first Saturday of every month and sponsoring a “Dr. Seuss Day” each spring. 

 Philanthropy and community service involvement of other fraternities and sororities at Whitman include:

Delta Gamma sorority’s philanthropy project is Service for Sight; members raise money by raking leaves for donations in the fall, and volunteer to help the vision impaired in Walla Walla;

Kappa Alpha Theta sorority’s philanthropy project is Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA); members also volunteer at the Odd Fellows Home and Habitat for Humanity.

Phi Delta Theta fraternity members volunteer in a monthly work party for Habitat for Humanity; make regular visits to the residents at the Odd Fellows Home and sponsor a bi-annual highway clean-up project.

Sigma Chi fraternity members support the house’s philanthropy project Children’s Miracle Network;

Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity sponsors the annual all-campus blood drive for the Red Cross and hosts an annual Thanksgiving dinner that serves more than 200 of Walla Walla’s elderly citizens.

Beta Theta Pi fraternity focuses its philanthropy efforts on the local community, and members volunteer at the Odd Fellows Home, the YMCA and at local schools.





CONTACT: Lenel Parish, Whitman College News Service, (509) 527-5156