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Sisters Celebrate Sorority's Founding by Serving Meals

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Jan. 13, 2007 — Members of the St. Croix Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority spent a portion of their leisure time Saturday serving meals to the homeless and less fortunate at the Christian "Shan" Vegetable Market in Christiansted.
The activity fell on the 94th anniversary of the national chapter's founding at Howard University on Jan. 13, 1913, by 22 collegiate women. The event marks the second time that local members have served the homeless. Nationwide, Founder's Day is celebrated with various community-service projects, one of the core principles upon which the sorority was founded. According to chapter President Dianne Canton-Reed, sorority members decided to feed the homeless because it brought them such joy the last time around.
"We wanted to give something back to the community because we are always asking the community for something," she said. The sorority often raises funds for scholarships to help young women attend college.
On Saturday members wore identifying red, white and even black T-shirts, some emblazoned with the words "Delta Sigma Theta" or Greek symbols identifying the sorority. Nearby several young women, members of the sorority's Dr. Betty Shabazz Delta Academy, were on hand to assist as needed. The Academy, held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays at Juanita Gardine Elementary School, provides young women ages 11-14 with the opportunity to enhance the education they receive in public schools. The activities include self-esteem and etiquette workshops, field trips for college exposure and other special outings such as concerts, plays and cultural events, according to Desiree Illidge, co-chair of the Delta Academy along with Evelyn Richards.
Canton-Reed said Saturday that members cooked and donated barbecued, curried and stewed chicken, along with macaroni and cheese, peas and rice, corn on the cob, mixed vegetables and broccoli florets for the luncheon, which lasted from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The group of women worked in assembly-line fashion, with Canton-Reed assisting others with placing the food in Styrofoam containers. Then Illidge, Richards and their Delta Academy charges placed the containers of food into a plastic bag, adding slices of homemade cake and banana bread and a soft drink. They handed the completed meals to the men and women standing in line.
Some reminisced about past community-service projects, including Martha Edwards and Mae Louise Williams. They include the society's yearly voter drive and fund-raising activities for scholarships. Edwards and Williams are founding members of the St. Croix Alumnae Chapter. They recently bid farewell to another founding member, 85-year-old Hugh Etta Boulare, who died Dec. 28.
"I feel that we are meeting the call for what we were founded on because we were founded to perform community services," said Edwards, who joined the sorority 38 years ago while still in college. "We are very fortunate we are able to provide such a service to our people."
Other members present Saturday were Vy David, Petra Fatal, Sharon Williams, Shelby King Gaddy, Doris Brodhurst and Karen Hendricks. Delta Academy members were Ellerie Dawson, 13, Chenelle Trotman, 12, and Deja Bellamy, 10.
The sorority, which consists of an international sisterhood of nearly 300,000 women with various chapters nationwide and in the Caribbean, Europe and Africa, is headquartered in Washington, D.C. Its commitment to public service is embodied in its five-point program, which includes educational development, political awareness and involvement and physical and mental health. In 1980, through donations from its various chapters and some corporate sponsors, the national sorority opened a multi-million dollar, 10-story, 150-bedroom-unit residence for seniors and the handicapped. The building, Delta Towers, also has some commercial-use space.
Some notable Deltas include former congresswoman and presidential candidate Shirley Chisolm, actress Ruby Dee Davis, former NAACP Chairman Myrlie Evers-Williams and Dorothy I. Height, the 10th National President of Delta Sigma Theta and longtime president and founder of the National Council of Negro Women.
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