Allegheny College Senior Devotes Free Time to Charitable Efforts

Alexandra Downer, a rising senior from Pittsburgh, has a busy academic schedule at Allegheny College as a psychology major and an education studies minor, but she finds the time and energy to boost fundraising on behalf of her Delta Delta Delta sorority chapter and the patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee.

Alexandra Downer is an Allegheny College senior.
Alexandra Downer is an Allegheny College senior.

Downer is the philanthropy chair of the sorority and is executive director of the Up ’Til Dawn Allegheny chapter that helps raise funds for St. Jude.

In the last three years, the Allegheny Tri Delta chapter of fewer than 50 women has raised $57,820 for various causes. “This year we are trying to raise $23,000,” says Downer. “We are currently at $5,902. This is from general posts on social media, ‘Sincerely Yours,’ and cookbook sales.”

The chapter in the summer of 2020 has been busy online selling cookbooks, called “Cooking for a Cure,” and grill guides from Up ’Til Dawn as fundraisers to benefit St. Jude. The group also has participated in online efforts to fund cancer research.

“The inspiration for Tri Delta’s cookbook came from a brainstorming session,” says Downer. “Since COVID-19 abruptly ended our semester, our traditional ways of fundraising in the spring were impacted, and our president, Amber Lisman, suggested a PDF cookbook. We thought it would be a great idea as a Mother’s Day gift for $5, the same price as a ticket for our traditional fundraisers, the pancake breakfast and Delta desserts.”

Up ’Til Dawn had initially planned to have a few events in the spring semester, which ended on campus in March, to jump-start the group’s fundraising. “Looking for an online fundraiser while at home, the success of Tri Delta’s PDF cookbook led our St. Jude representative and me to try something similar for Up ’Til Dawn. After discussing with the board, we decided to take the cookbook concept and create a PDF grill guide for Father’s Day and the Fourth of July.”

Tri Delta’s cookbook includes recipes for breakfasts, appetizers, snacks, entrees and desserts. The Up ’Til Dawn’s grill guide includes meals, sauces, side dishes and desserts. Each book has a preface sharing some background about St. Jude and what each organization does throughout the year to help benefit the hospital. The cookbooks and grill guides can be purchased for $5 by contacting Downer at

Online cookbook sales so far have raised about $1,300 for St. Jude, Downer says.

Allegheny's Delta Delta Delta chapter in 2019-20.
Allegheny’s Delta Delta Delta chapter in 2019-20.

Allegheny’s Up ’Til Dawn fundraising director is Elizabeth Graham, a junior from Butler, Pennsylvania, who is a political science major and communication minor. “In years past we have done car smashes, food trucks, and raffle baskets to reach our team goal,” Graham says. “It’s no surprise that just like everything else right now, we are learning how to adapt our fundraising for Up ’Til Dawn to be responsive to our global circumstances.”

The Allegheny Tri Delta chapter’s previous fundraising efforts have led to the chapter achieving the distinction of a “Top 10 Fundraising Chapter” for small schools from both the Delta Delta Delta national organization and St. Jude.

Each year, Tri Delta has various fundraising events on campus to support St. Jude.

“In the fall we have a pancake breakfast during Blue and Gold Weekend. We have a raffle at this event with baskets from the sisters of each academic year, Epsilon Iota (our chapter) alumni, and other organizations on campus,” says Downer. “In the spring we have Delta Desserts, an all you can eat dessert buffet. We also participate in a letter-writing campaign called ‘Sincerely Yours’ where we write to our friends and family asking for donations and sharing information about St. Jude and how their donations really make an impact. In the summer we have a 24-hour social media challenge where we try to raise ‘5K in a day.’ “