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Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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‘Heart of the USA’ philanthropy event provides assistance to over 100 farmworkers in Fresno

Farm workers laugh amongst each other as prizes are called out during the “Heart of the USA” philanthropy event hosted by Beta Gamma Nu Fraternity Inc.

Beta Gamma Nu, Inc., a Fresno State fraternity, hosted its annual ‘Heart of the USA’ philanthropy where it assisted over 100 farmworkers in the Fresno County area.

In honor of Cesar Chavez Day, members of the fraternity spent the day near Laton distributing resources including food boxes, equipment for work, such as bandanas and gloves and prizes, such as household appliances.

Now entering its fourth year, the event has become a yearly tradition for the fraternity as a way to give back to an underappreciated community of farmworkers in the Fresno area.

“The goal of the philanthropy is showing appreciation to our farmworkers and giving them as many resources as possible,” said Gabriel Perez, president of Beta Gamma Nu. “The whole point of [the philanthropy] is to show they’re appreciated for their hard work and working on the front lines.”

Two fraternity members, Armando Santos and Oswaldo Fernandez, began the event in 2021 with the intention to aid agricultural laborers who continued to work during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As everyone stopped working throughout the pandemic, our farm workers were out there risking their personal health and the health of their families to provide food,” Perez said. “So our brothers wanted to make sure someone was showing them appreciation in any way we could.”

As the event progresses each year, the focus has shifted to not only raising funds for farmworkers, but also for fraternity members to immerse themselves in the environment to get a sense of their working conditions.

“It was always about raising funds for a philanthropy that helped an overlooked community, but also doing the next step and interacting with the workers we’re raising money for.”

A large part of the philanthropy’s importance for the organization also comes from the amount of first-generation students who are familiar with the community they aim to serve.

“A lot of [my brothers] come from farm working backgrounds,” said Osvaldo Estrada, Beta Gamma Nu’s philanthropy chair. “So to be able to lead this event this year and expand it from the past few years, it hits different.”

As the person in charge of this year’s event, Estrada said the philanthropy is more than helping a group of farmworkers.

The philanthropy has expanded considerably from its conception, especially considering this year’s attendance was over 100 farmworkers, compared to 2023’s total of 40.

“We have a lot of the brothers who led this event graduating soon,” Estrada said. “I feel like we’re moving forward with the hopes that we can inspire the next group of brothers to care this much.”

After several years of allowing the event to gain its footing, the fraternity has also added a scholarship. The scholarship is currently available until April 29 to high school seniors who are first generation, and is another step in a growing support for their target community.

“We’ve actually expanded the philanthropy to include a scholarship, to provide opportunities to people whose parents might not have had the opportunity to do so,” Estrada said. “We’re hoping this will inspire high school students who are pursuing a high school education to become more involved in the cause.”

As for the ‘Heart of the USA’ event itself, it has quickly become an annual tradition for the fraternity and is set to continue each spring semester. For those looking to support the fraternity and its mission, follow them on instagram and follow the links in their bio to donate.

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