A Sisterhood of Serving Others

Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority works to plant more than 12,000 trees in four years

“Service to all mankind” is one of the founding tenets of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the oldest and largest Black sorority in the United States. Since 1908, its members have established scholarship funds for students, created healthcare programs for those in need, and supported research on diseases like sickle cell anemia. Most recently, they have set their sights on tree planting, which provides many benefits to youth and overall community health.

The sorority set a goal to plant 3,100 trees each year for four years, inspiring their huge network of active members and alumnae to take action. A tree ordering and planting hub was established. The sorority is inviting sisters to get involved by either choosing to get a tree to plant in their own yard or by ordering trees in bulk to distribute at their own events. This hub makes it easy to order trees and find additional resources about tree benefits, planting, and care.

Trees shipped directly to members are managed using the Arbor Day Foundation’s tree distribution technology. Interested Alpha Kappa Alpha members are directed to a website to reserve their free tree. Once there, they can sign up and choose which species they want. Using i-Tree technology, the site also helps to plot out the best place to plant this new tree, considering benefits like energy savings and stormwater management. Then the chosen tree is delivered right to their doorsteps.

So far this year, more than 2,500 trees have been distributed through this planting hub.

To further their tree planting cause, some chapters have picked up shovels to make their communities greener. The Canyon Ridge neighborhood of Greer, South Carolina, now has 30 new trees thanks to this effort. Prior to last spring, a third of the homes in the neighborhood had no trees in their yards. Twelve members of Alpha Kappa Alpha’s local chapter gathered on a rainy day in March to plant the trees, which were provided by the Arbor Day Foundation. Local nonprofit TreesUpstate helped oversee the event and teach volunteers.

This dual approach to community tree plantings and tree distributions to members allows the sorority’s chapters to plant trees in their communities while also staying connected with alumnae sisters all over the country.

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