UC nursing student unites Greek life for tornado relief

Lydia Holland is collecting donations for tornado victims in her home state of Kentucky

Lydia Holland

Lydia Holland

Lydia Holland isn't one to sit on the sidelines, especially when she's passionate about a cause. So, when a cluster of tornadoes ripped through her home state of Kentucky in early December, she sprang into action.

"I couldn't imagine the devastation that occurred," Holland said. Her family lives in Louisville and owns a lake house in Western Kentucky, where the tornadoes caused severe damage and claimed more than 80 lives. "Our house was fine, but just minutes down the road, houses were completely destroyed."

In the months since the tornado outbreak, Holland has rallied friends, family and more than a dozen University of Cincinnati Greek organizations to contribute to relief efforts, drumming up about $1,300 in donations toward her goal of $2,000 by early February.

Holland, a sophomore in UC's College of Nursing, started small by setting aside some of her own belongings and asking for donations from family and friends. But she wanted to make a bigger impact, so around Christmastime, she reached out to Matthew: 25 Ministries, a Cincinnati-based nonprofit that collects and distributes donations worldwide, offering humanitarian aid and disaster relief. The organization already had deployed a volunteer team to Kentucky to bring much-needed products and services to victims.

"They told me everything they need," Holland said. This includes cleaning supplies, first-aid items, personal care and paper products and more, along with monetary donations.

From there, Holland began contacting her fellow Chi Omega sorority sisters and alumnae, who agreed to step up and help. "And then," Holland says, "I brainstormed and thought, Every chapter loves a good competition, so I went to see if I could get others involved." She invited all UC Greek organizations to compete to collect donations. The chapter that raises the most money will receive a grant from the College Panhellenic Council, the governing body of UC sororities, to put toward annual philanthropy week fundraisers.

As of late-January, eight fraternities and six sororities at UC had agreed to participate. Holland plans to accept items and monetary donations through early February and then use the dollars collected to purchase goods to take to Matthew: 25 Ministries to distribute.

Beyond helping the victims of December's tornados, Holland hopes her work and the support from sororities and fraternities across the university shines a positive light on Greek life.

"Greek life has gotten a bad rap throughout the years," she says. "You don't see many stories about the positive work they're doing in the community, but at the heart of every single member of each chapter, we all have one goal: to help other people."

Make a Donation

Contribute in one of two ways:

  • Donate electronically via Venmo @LydiaHolland802. To make a donation on behalf of a sorority or fraternity, include the name of the organization in the Venmo description box.
  • Drop off items to 2435 Ohio Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45219.
For questions, contact Holland at lydia.holland@uc.edu.

Along with Chi Omega, participating UC sororities include:

  • Delta Delta Delta
  • Gamma Phi Beta
  • Kappa Delta
  • Kappa Kappa Gamma
  • Pi Beta Phi

Participating UC fraternities include:

  • Beta Theta Phi
  • Delta Tau Delta
  • Pi Kappa Alpha
  • Pi Kappa Phi
  • Pi Kappa Tau
  • Sigma Alpha Epsilon
  • Sigma Chi
  • Theta Chi