After a difficult few months following the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Penn’s Lambda Theta Alpha Latin sorority wanted to make this year’s charity banquet for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital special.
Titled “La Luna Ball: A Night Under the Stars,” the dinner and performances honored the night’s “stars” — people and students of color, DACA recipients, immigrants, and most importantly the children and families of St. Jude’s, said College junior Brianna Vizcaino.
“We are trying to honor the stars that go unnoticed, such as student performance groups that don’t get many shows during the semester and other activist organizations,” Vizcaino said. Vizcaino is the treasurer of Penn’s Lambda Theta Alpha and was the chair of this year’s banquet.
Before this year's event even began, the sorority had raised over $3,200 for St. Jude’s — already surpassing last year’s donations of $2,741. This year's Sunday event was the third annual banquet that Penn's chapter hosted.
The night kicked off with a poem by College junior Ayah El-Fahmawi from The Excelano Project, Penn’s spoken word group, and was followed by a performance by The Inspiration A Cappella, a co-ed a cappella group founded to celebrate the legacy of the African diaspora.
“With the current climate, a lot is going on at Penn and around the world," Vizcaino said. "I think it was important for me to make some kind of change in the community.”
Nationally, Lambda Theta Alpha officially became St. Jude's collegiate partner in 2010. The partnership has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the hospital. St. Jude’s provides treatment, travel, housing, and food free of charge to all patients.
Lambda Theta Alpha co-hosted an event with three other sororities on Nov. 15 that focused on the Mirabal sisters, four historic feminist political figures from the Dominican Republic. This was the first event sponsored by a grant from the Intercultural Greek Council, which aimed to facilitate more collaboration among minority groups on campus. The other sororities that co-hosted included Sigma Lambda Upsilon, Alpha Kappa Alpha, and Delta Sigma Theta.
The banquet this weekend took place in Houston Hall’s Bodek Lounge, with backlights, photo booths, and balloons.
“I feel like every year [the event] is upgraded," Lambda Theta Alpha Social Chair and College junior Stephanie Gregory said. "It’s definitely evolved into something elegant – a step above what we thought it could be."