Fraternity brothers lend helping hands in Jamaica

Kansas University students, from left, Landon Plumer, Wichita senior; Ray Segebrecht, Lawrence junior; and J.R. Keller, Godfrey, Ill., senior, left Sunday for a weeklong trip to Jamaica, where they will volunteer at an orphanage and work with Food for the Poor Inc. In addition to volunteering, the students plan to distribute around 30 donated soccer balls to children living at the orphanage.

Spring Break Jamaica this isn’t.

In a world where many go hungry, there’s a group of Kansas University fraternity members who are hoping to make at least one week’s worth of a difference.

Twelve members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, led by Lawrence junior Ray Segebrecht, are traveling to Kingston, Jamaica, this week for a pilgrimage for Food for the Poor Inc.

“We decided we didn’t want to participate in the touristy part of it,” said J.R. Keller, a Godfrey, Ill., senior. “We figured if we were going on a charity trip, we actually wanted to do something.”

The group, which consists of members of five graduating classes, will spend the week helping build a home for a family, volunteering in a soup kitchen and spending at least one day at the Alpha Boys School for orphans.

Food for the Poor offers pilgrimages for those wishing to donate their time in Jamaica, Haiti and Central America.

Landon Plumer, a Wichita senior who will go on the trip, said he had never had the opportunity to go on a charity trip. He said he realized as a senior he was running out of time to share that experience with his fraternity brothers.

Not only that, Plumer said, but he would feel good about his legacy if he could serve as an example for brothers who follow him.

The group left Sunday and will spend four days and three nights helping Food for the Poor charities. Segebrecht said he came up with the idea after he did a similar pilgrimage with his church’s youth group in 2004.

“I figured if I liked it with my church, it would be great with my brothers,” he said.

Keller said his main hope for the trip would be to simply have some sort of effect on the residents.

“We want to be able to say we had made a difference,” he said.

Those participating raised the $1,100 per-person cost for the trip.