‘Kappa Karnival’ supports literacy, families

Mary-Kate Burkert

Reading became a festive event as one ISU sorority held a carnival of fun and games to promote books.

Kappa Kappa Gamma held its second annual “Kappa Karnival” on Nov. 11 to help increase literacy at Collins-Maxwell Elementary.

In conjunction with Reading is Fundamental, Inc., the event, which reached out to over 165 families, brought all students enrolled in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade and their families to the two hours of festivities including face painting, headband-making, pin the glasses on the principal and a cake walk. 

“Our house mom came to read to all of us the featured story,” said Hillary Basten, philanthropy chairwoman and junior in event management. “This year, I ordered the childhood classic ‘Corduroy.’ At the end of the night, each child went home with their own book prize as well as a copy of ‘Corduroy.'”

Another of Kappa Kappa Gamma’s philanthropy, known as “Kappa Fiesta,” was held Sept. 8, donating the last seven years of proceeds to Reading is Fundamental, the sorority’s national philanthropy. The money raised from Kappa Fiesta in early fall helped fund the carnival Friday.

“Just last year, our chapter changed things up and tried to see who we were directly impacting,” Basten said. “Being able to see who we were helping has changed the chapter’s philanthropic outlook. We got in contact with the Collins-Maxwell schooling district, where they met the RIF criteria. As a national goal, Reading is Fundamental tries to reach under-served children from birth to age 8.”

In order to be able to distribute books for each child to take home as a prize at the end of the event, chapter members held a book drive over the summer. When the school year began, the members brought these books with them and the collection started. KKG alumnae and their advisory board also helped with donations.

“As an ISU alumni, it is so rewarding to see a group from Iowa State ‘adopt’ our school,” said Beth Caple, a member of the parents club who was involved in getting Collins-Maxwell registered in the RIF program. “I didn’t really know what to expect last year, and I was blown away. It was two hours of ear-to-ear smiles.”

The event, which introduced different games than the ones from last year, also offered prize tickets for new books.

“The greatest thing … was being able to see how enthused they were when they took their tickets to the prize table and got to pick out new books,” said Olivia Diehl, member of Kappa Kappa Gamma and sophomore in event management. “One in particular that I saw, a 6-year-old little boy picked out a book, ran up to his mom and said, ‘Mom, I got the best book ever, can we read it tonight?’ It was amazing to see them so excited about books and reading,” Diehl said.

Sorority members said “Kappa Karnival” spending time with the Collins-Maxwell children and their families was ‘rewarding.’

“It was really heartwarming to see how many kids came to Kappa Karnival and how big their smiles were every time they came into the rooms to play games with us,” said Anne Block, sophomore in pre-dietetics and exercise. “A lot of them were shy initially, and helping them to feel more comfortable with us and start having fun was one of the most rewarding things I’ve experienced.”