Tag: Alpha Omicron Pi

Gamecocks give back(packs)

Josie Howell, Sports Editor

Over the past four years, The Jacksonville State football team has teamed up with the ladies of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority for their annual “give back-pack” charity event. 

On July 26, members of the sorority and football team held a community supply drive on the Jacksonville City Square. This is an event where not only JSU athletics get involved, but an event where the entire community is invited to get involved and give back. The local community, JSU students and anyone who is willing to donate, were invited to give backpacks and supplies for these families.

This event provides school supplies for local families and students for the upcoming school year. Each year before the new school year begins, each individual sorority member is assigned to collect two backpacks worth of supplies to contribute to the cause. 

On August 11, families in need throughout Calhoun County were invited to a community pick-up, which took place at Jacksonville community center. Those involved also traveled to schools in Calhoun County on August 13 to give out backpacks and school supplies. In the past, those that helped hand out the supplies have arrived at the schools dressed up as Dr. Suess characters to make it that much more fun and enjoyable for the kids.

“For me, I enjoy being part of an organization that gives to the community,” said Harley Stickney, a member of Alpha Omicron Pi. “Before college, I thought sororities were self-centered, but Alpha Omicron Pi has certainly proven me wrong. We are constantly doing what we can to give back to the community, and that’s what I love most about being an AOII. Being part of a service-based organization has changed my life!” 

This event was initially created by sorority alumnae, Fatima Wise, who is now a teacher at Oscar Adams Elementary School, along with former JSU Alpha Omicron Pi Chairwoman Tori Attison. Everyone who has been involved from the start hopes that they can give students the confidence needed to have a fun and successful school year.

The football team has extended their help every year since the start of the event four years ago. According to Alpha Omicron Pi Chairwoman Taylor Beckham, Coach Grass has always loved the idea of this event and encourages his team to join in and help as much as they can. This year, JSU football and Alpha Omicron Pi were able to donate to 26 different schools across the county and gave out over 200 backpacks worth of supplies.

For those who would like to get involved, you can gather supplies for next year’s drive. Supplies that are needed for this event are pencils, erasers, crayons and markers, scissors, glue sticks, 1-inch binders, 3-prong folders, composition notebooks (non-spiral), wide-ruled paper and hand sanitizer.

For more information on future event dates, follow Alpha Omicron Pi on Instagram at “aoiiatjsu” and Facebook at “Alpha Omicron Pi at JSU.”

Photo courtesy of Taylor Beckham

Alpha Omicron Pi uses Mardi Gras to raise funds for arthritis foundation

Alpha Omnicron Pi's 2019 Mardi Gras Parade
Grace Cockrell/JSU
JSU Students march in the 2019 Alpha Omicron Pi Mardi Gras Parade

Patrick Yim, Special to the Chanticleer


In March, the sisters of the Delta Epsilon Chapter of  Alpha Omicron Pi gathered together with friends and community members to celebrate Mardi Gras. They also worked to raise funds for their organization’s national philanthropy, the Arthritis National Research Foundation.

What is the Arthritis National Research Foundation? The ANRF is a nonprofit organization that services to individuals dealing with the struggles of arthritis. They also work to research ways to combat the issue and hopefully find a cure.

While this is only the second year that the sorority has done a Mardi Gras festival and parade, they still received great support in their endeavors raising a finally total of 12,487 dollars, with twelve different individuals and organizations supporting in the parade, and 150 to 200 people in attendance at the parade and festival.

“Funds were raised in multiple different ways,” explained current philanthropy chair for the sorority chapter,” Taylor Anne Beckham. “Our main source of money came through Crowd Change donations; however, we also sold tickets for gumbo plates, and organizations paid to participate in the parade. The Mardi Gras King and Queen contestants also helped to contribute over 3,500 dollars to our overall amount raised. At the celebration, we sold raffle tickets, and families purchased bounce house wristbands, face painting sessions, and delicious cotton candy [made by the members].”

In their first year, the chapter raised around 9,000 dollars. This is a pretty sizeable accomplishment, especially for a first attempt.

“If we can increase our amount every year, I am confident we can impact the lives of many!”

When people come together for a cause, those on the outside sometimes wonder, why do they do it, is it worth it, or what’s the point? Here is what Beckham had to say.

“I personally believe it is important to pour love and compassion into your surrounding community no matter where you live. I grew up in a small Tennessee town where everyone worked together cohesively for the betterment of the community, school, and each other. I truly believe that one cannot succeed without the help of another! I want to give back not only to the Arthritis Foundation but also to JSU and the Jacksonville community because they have given so much to me!”

Whatever the cause may be, remember, that you can make a difference. The important thing is that you did something to help.

Strain deserves credit for basketball expectations

By Chris Allen Brown/Associate Editor

Leah Strain didn’t have to continue playing basketball following her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear during the summer before the 2015 season.  

Strain, one of the most prolific prep basketball players in Alabama history, could’ve hung up her shoes and ankle braces to focused all of her time on being a nurse or member of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority. 

She could’ve said that’s it, I’m done. 

But she didn’t. She continued to fight. 

Strain fought out of the shadows of her older sister, Courtney, who owns the state mark for career points. 

Strain fought the expectations of being an incoming freshman after helping Woodland High to its second consecutive state championship. 

Strain fought the lengthy rehab that came with the torn knee ligament.

Strain fought to be see time of the floor for JSU head coach Rick Pietri. 

Strain fought to be Leah Strain. She wasn’t going to give up and let people define her legacy. She took it upon herself to do that. 

When Strain throws on the red-and-white No. 2 Jacksonville State uniform over her 5-foot-4 frame Wednesday night against Belmont, it’ll be the 82nd game of her Gamecock career. It was a collegiate career that saw her score her first points during Jacksonville State’s upset win against SEC foe Alabama on Nov. 18, 2014. 

During the 2014-15 season, Strain set a career high in points with a 14-point outing against Mercer. Against the Bears, she went 5 of 10 from the field, including three 3-point baskets, and dished out six assists. For her performance, Strain was named the Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Week. 

Off the court, Strain earned 2014-15 OVC Medal of Honor and OVC Commissioner’s Honor Roll status after finishing the academic year with a 4.0 grade point average.

After redshirting during the 2015-16 season to rehab her ACL injury, Strain returned for the 2016-17 year. 

She scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting against Brewton-Parker, before turning in a season-high 11 points in 18 minutes against Nicholls State. She also scored nine points in 10 minutes in the final game of the season. 

As a redshirt-junior this season, Strain has played 373 minutes and scored at least one point in 22 of 27 games heading into JSU’s home finale against the Bruins. 

Strain will be remembered more for her resiliency than scoring while at JSU.

AOII brings Mardi Gras spirit to Jacksonville

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Freshman AOII member, Brianna Winkles, smiles with Mardi Gras King 2018 Paul Hicks (Brianna Winkles/Facebook).

Nick AdrianStaff Writer

A bit of New Orleans made its way to Jacksonville this past week as JSU celebrated Mardi Gras culminating with its first ever Mardi Gras parade on Saturday, February 10.

The event was hosted by Alpha Omicron Pi to raise money for their philanthropy, Arthritis Research.

Mardi Gras is a thousands-of-years-old celebration that has roots in the Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia. Today, it is celebrated on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of the Christian season of Lent—the 40 days preceding Easter. Mardi Gras festivities have gained particular notoriety in America in the post cities of New Orleans and Mobile, but the holiday is celebrated worldwide, including France, Germany, Spain, Italy, England, Canada and Denmark. In Brazil, it is known as Carnival, a weeklong festival of vibrant colors, elaborate costumes, dancing, eating, drinking and celebrating.

JSU’s celebrations started early in the week on February 5, which included spreading word for the parade, encouraging people to attend and giving out traditional favors like beads and MoonPies.

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Alpha Omicron Pi created a Snapchat filter for the parade (Megan Harvey/Facebook).

“Planning this event was a blast,” AOII Philanthropy Chairman Hannah Blue said.  “I got to meet so many people and network with my peers and people in my community.”

Rain may have put a damper on the parade route, but it couldn’t dampen the spirits of those in attendance.

The inaugural Mardi Gras parade began at 3 p.m. on Saturday, starting off at Bibb Graves Hall, traveling around Trustee Circle and concluding at the Alumni House. Miss JSU 2018 Lauren Reaves and Homecoming King and Queen 2017 Paris Coleman and Shea O’Donnell all braved the dreary weather to participate. There was also a Mardi Gras float and plenty of beads, candy and even more MoonPies.

When the parade was finished, the celebration continued with a red beans and rice dinner, raffles, prizes and a live jazz concert by members of the JSU Jazz program.

Students Bobbie Ann Oliver and Paul Hicks were crowned as JSU’s first ever Mardi Gras queen and king.

The event ultimately wound up raising over $9,000 for Arthritis Research, leading to an incredibly successful Mardi Gras celebration that will surely become an annual favorite on campus.

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Rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of these AOII sisters as they pose at the Mardi Gras themed photo booth following the parade on February 10 (Megan Harvey/Facebook).

Sorority and fraternity host basketball tournament for injured student

Nick Adrian, Staff Writer

On October 6, JSU’s Alpha Omicron Pi and Pi Kappa Phi teamed together to host “Buckets 4 Brit,” a 3v3 basketball tournament that raised money for student Brittany Street’s medical expenses.

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AOPi and Pi Kappa Phi raised $1600 toward Brittany Street’s medical expenses at the Buckets for Brit basketball tournament on October 6 (photo by Nick Adrian/The Chanticleer)

Street was involved in a jet ski accident on August 2 during a family vacation in Gulf Shores, Ala. She was rushed immediately to a local hospital before being med-flighted to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Fla. Street had suffered two collapsed lungs and a broken rib and required staples in her head.

Once she was sent home, things only seemed to take a turn for the worse. Doctors found fluid in her lungs as well as results of two mini strokes that she had suffered during her stay at the hospital. She was returned yet again to the hospital, receiving lymphatic duct surgery and was tests to determine the extent of the damage from the strokes.

Street’s full recovery is expected to take a minimum of six months, in and out of physical and occupational therapy. Because of this, Street has taken the current semester off from school. With the added costs of surgeries, therapy sessions, doctors’ appointments and other hospital bills, her medical expenses were far from paid.

Luckily, Street’s boyfriend, Austin Pankey, had an idea. Pankey had experienced the multiple surgeries and hospital visits firsthand, and he wanted to help out in any way he could. He talked to the Pi Kappa Phi philanthropy chairman, DJ Metz, and came up with the idea of hosting a basketball tournament with help from Street’s sorority, Alpha Omicron Pi. His intention was to have a meaningful event rather than something that was merely thrown together at the last minute.

“DJ took the idea and went above and beyond my expectations with planning the event, booking the community center, and all the added things that come with that,” said Pankey.

Fellow students and friends Claire Davis and Taylor West helped create flyers, collect donations and contact sponsors. Soon, the entire campus was aware of the event. Donations and sponsorships started to flood in.

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ABOVE: Brittany Street (center, front row) sits with her boyfriend, Austin Pankey (right), sister, Brook Street (back row), and friend Selena (left). BELOW: Brittany Street (front left) reconnects with some of her sorority sisters at the Buckets for Brit event. Back row: Bailey Norrell, Brianna Norrell and Thanne Thompson. Front Row: Brittany Street, Peyton Steinberg and Tillery Tidwell (photos via Brittany Street/Facebook)

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“Buckets 4 Brit” took place from 4:30 – 10:00 p.m. on October 6 at the Jacksonville Community Center. Street was able to attend and got the chance to see her supportive friends for the first time since her accident. Concessions were sold and the admission fee was $2, with one-hundred percent of the proceeds going towards Street’s family.

During the 3v3 tournament, thirteen different teams participated. The grand total of money raised was an incredible $1,600, all donated to the Street family. Though Brittany still has a ways to go for her recovery, the amount of love and support from her friends and fellow students on campus is surely getting her through it all.