Students get behind tie-dye and treats for a greater cause

Kappa Kappa Gamma partners with Blue Sky to provide books to children in need.


Members of Kappa Kappa Gamma participate in Tie Dye & Blue Sky. Photo by Alison Murtagh, ‘19.

Alison Murtagh

Tie-dying t-shirts and eating pastries from Lexington’s popular Blue Sky Bakery may sound like a fun study break on a Wednesday afternoon, but for the sisters of Kappa Kappa Gamma (KKG), it’s also a yearly opportunity to put more books in the hands of Rockbridge County children.

Clara McCollam, ‘19, is on the sorority’s philanthropy board, which is in charge of planning “Tie-Dye and Blue Sky” every year. She said proceeds from the event benefit Reading is Fundamental (RIF), the national charity of Kappa Kappa Gamma that promotes children’s literacy nationwide by distributing books to children in need.

According to the philanthropy’s website, RIF has touched the lives of over 40 million children since its inception over 50 years ago.

“Most chapters actually host Reading Is Fundamental events, but instead our chapter does a big fundraiser for it,” McCollam said.

KKG Philanthropy Chair Colin Wallace, ‘17, said the event raised around $700 last year. Sorority members sold t-shirts to members of the W&L community throughout the week who then tie-dyed them at the event. Blue Sky provides baked goods for the fundraiser.

“For Tie-Dye and Blue Sky, we ask for people to bring gently used books to donate for the kids–which [the kids] all love,” Wallace said.

Some of “the kids” are children that W&L Kappas meet through the chapter’s partnership with Dr. Patricia L. Schirmer from Rockbridge Health. Women from the sorority participate in the “Reach Out and Read” program twice a week, which involves reading to children who are waiting for their appointments at the doctor’s office.

“Rockbridge County is really on the high end of the statistic—a lot of the kids don’t have books and don’t know how to read, “ McCollam said. “So Kappa goes to Reach Out and Read events and helps teach the kids how to read. Even [some] third graders have no idea how to read.”

Many members of the W&L community were eager to contribute to RIF’s efforts, including Trenton Babcock, ‘17.

“I think it’s a good philanthropy event in light of the fact that Rockbridge County has a low literacy rate,” Babcock said. “It provides valuable funding to a much needed cause.”