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Lambda brothers playing ball to help children

Somewhere in Camden, N.J., a middle school-aged boy holds a brand new baseball mitt. And he, along with his fellow schoolmates, can thank the brothers of La Salle’s chapter of Sigma Phi Lambda for this gift.

Recently, the fraternity donated $1,000 to The San Miguel School of Camden, a Christian Brothers academic institution dedicated to providing a complete and well-rounded education to underprivileged young men living in Camden and its surrounding areas. According to the school’s president, Brother Joseph Juliano, the donation will be added to the school’s extracurricular fund, which will use a portion of the money to buy new equipment and uniforms for the school’s budding baseball team, among other things.

The funds were garnered from Lambda’s 3v3 Basketball Tournament, which took place last December in the Tom Gola Arena. Held every fall semester, the tournament has been one of the fraternity’s main philanthropic events for the past six years, and has always been in benefit of the San Miguel School.

Open to the general public, the tournament required a $25 donation for each three-person team, which included a free T-shirt and lunch. The event was run and operated entirely by the Lambda brothers, whose duties ranged from finding sponsors to keeping score and providing food for the players.

Joe Polizzi, senior communication major and the president of Lambda during the fall semester, felt that this year’s tournament ran smoothly and was surprised at the unusually large turnout.

“This year it was nice to see not only Greeks, but other people come to play as well––it was exciting to see more people get involved,” he said.

But to Polizzi, the best part of the experience was the fraternity members’ interaction with the San Miguel students. It has been tradition for the brothers to invite the young men to La Salle for a day of activities that includes attending a home sporting event. This year, the Lambda members invited the Miguel students to La Salle’s March 4 basketball game against Fordham, during which a novelty check signifying the fraternity’s donation was presented to the students and Juliano.

“It’s just fun to watch [the San Miguel students] get excited,” Polizzi said. “There’s nothing better.”

Although he revealed that these events take a significant amount of planning and preparation, Polizzi claimed that the required time investment “doesn’t matter,” and that helping underprivileged students is the “best thing [he] can get out of it.”

Juliano mirrored Polizzi’s enthusiasm, and was deeply honored by the effort that the fraternity had put into helping the school. He claimed that the Lambda brothers have been deeply involved with the student life at San Miguel, going as far as visiting the school to play football with the students in previous years. This “wonderful connection” has even been officially recognized by San Miguel, with the fraternity receiving the De La Salle Award—an accolade that recognizes group participation and involvement with the school—in 2003.

As a sign of their immense gratitude, the boys at San Miguel sent Lambda a framed picture of themselves posing with the brothers at the Fordham game. Its current home is the desk of Brother Gerry Molyneaux, the fraternity’s faculty adviser, who feels nothing but pride towards the brothers’ efforts.

Molyneaux stressed the importance of assisting San Miguel, an institution that is virtually supported by the generosity of theChristian Brothers and other donors. Charging minimal tuition to its students, the San Miguel School provides young Camden boys with an alternative to what Molyneaux calls a “lousy public education system.”

But the labors of the school go far beyond providing basic education; a secondary, but just as imperative, service provided by San Miguel involves enrolling its former students in high-quality high schools and other establishments of higher education.

“The brothers’ are giving these kids the chance of a lifetime, and that’s something worth fighting for,” said Molyneaux on the fraternity’s choosing of the school as the recipient of its charity.

Yet, Molyneaux holds that the Lambda brothers fill another capacity that is necessary to the lives of the San Miguel attendees: positive role models.

“What these kids need, in addition to a good education, are good role models, and they got to experience that by spending time with these guys who take care of them.”

Should he ever forget this special relationship that the fraternity has with the young men of San Miguel, Molyneaux needs only to glance at the picture frame on his desk, which is emblazoned with one word that sums up with clear and honest brevity the picture that it holds: “Family.”

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