Decorating from the heart

November 1, 2021

Homewood undergrads put a new twist on holiday gift giving

When COVID-19 called a halt to traditional in-person fundraising events, the Johns Hopkins Alpha Phi sorority chapter got creative. Last December they put their hands — and pantries — to work and held a gingerbread house decorating competition to raise money for the Johns Hopkins Women’s Cardiovascular Health Center.

Brown gingerbread house with a peaked roof covered with white icing, red and white candy, and the words Alpha Phi
The Johns Hopkins Alpha Phi sorority chapter’s gingerbread house competition raised more than $800 for the Women’s Cardiovascular Center.

Anyone in the Johns Hopkins community could participate, and followers could vote on which houses they liked the best by using an Instagram poll. After the ovens had cooled and the last gumdrop was fixed to a gingerbread roof, the chapter had collected more than $800 in donations.

“Women’s cardiac care is the chosen philanthropic cause of Alpha Phi International Fraternity and the Alpha Phi Foundation,” says Alpha Phi JHU member Izzy Thompson. “We were thrilled to connect with the doctors and researchers at the Women’s Cardiovascular Center and are honored to contribute in our small way to the amazing care and research provided by their teams.”

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women in the U.S., and the symptoms often present themselves differently than in men. “Middle age women are a particularly vulnerable age group,” says Erin Donnelly Michos, MD, MHS, director of Women’s Cardiovascular Health at Johns Hopkins. They are often caring for young children at home and their aging parents, and they’re often working full time, and they’re taking care of everybody else, but they cannot ignore their own heart health.”

Thompson says the chapter looks forward to continuing its relationship with the center, which could include another gingerbread house competition and more if COVID cases continue to decline. “We are hoping to host some exciting fundraising programs in the future such as our Red Dress Gala,” she says. “We are still in the works of programming for our 2022 year.”

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Topics: Alumni, Foundations, Friends of Johns Hopkins Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Promote and Protect Health, Strengthening Partnerships