"Call your parents, hug a stranger and celebrate the diversity around you."
That's the message that was given out on hundreds of small red cards for Pi Kappa Phi's Valentine's day event Tuesday, which took over the Scramble Light with hugs, flowers and handmade cards in an effort to spread the inclusion and awareness in partnership with Best Buddies.
The chirping at the Scramble Light signaled a wave of Pi Kappa Phi brothers to flood the street, sporting Best Buddies T-shirts and handing flowers and hugs to people passing by. One of these brothers was philanthropy chairman and sophomore marketing major Joe DiCola.
"I wanted to try and get the idea of inclusion and acceptance of everybody out there — whether it's diversity, someone with a disability or someone that you wouldn't normally talk to — anyone really," said DiCola, the organizer of the event. "I wanted to get the guys out here, get people out here and just spread the love on Valentine's Day — whether it's a card, some flowers, a smile, a hug, whatever it may be."
DiCola said he is using his first semester in the position to organize this new event in partnership with Best Buddies, an organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of those with intellectual developmental disabilities.
"Our philanthropy is about including individuals. Whether it's intellectual or learning disabilities, all ends of the spectrum," DiCola said. "We focus primarily on helping people who can't necessarily help themselves."
The group also sold hot chocolate and T-shirts, but the brothers said their main purpose was to spread awareness.
"We're not really making money on this, so we're not here trying to raise money necessarily," said junior professional selling major Devin Hussey. "What we're really trying to do is spread awareness."
The success of the Best Buddies Valentine's event has the fraternity looking to expand in future years, DiCola said. Despite having over 250 flowers and handmade cards from buddies, organizers quickly ran out.
Now, they're anticipating at least double that amount when they host the event again next year.
"[The event was a] fantastic turnout," Hussey said. "Even at the end of the day, if we don't get as many people to, let's say use our hashtag, or use our geo-filter and help spread the love, it's ultimately nice to be out here and put a smile on people's faces. That brings joy to us — I know it does to me at least. So it's been successful no matter what."