Members from the Omicron Theta Chapter of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity at TRU have started a GoFundMe page to raise money to connect veterans with PTSD with animals from the SPCA. The campaign, titled Pets for Vets, hopes to raise $1,000 by the end of April.
What originally was supposed to be a fundraiser for the Military Heroes Campaign quickly developed into something much different, said Kappa Sigma member Justin Bourke.
“We have to raise a certain amount for the Military Heroes Campaign. But most of it goes to Fisher House in the States, so we wanted something more Canadian,” Bourke said. “I had guys coming to me asking if we could raise money for the SPCA, so in a meeting we thought of combining the two.”
Though the Kappa Sigmas could have donated their money to military fundraisers in the United States, they ultimately decide to work with Kamloops’ Royal Canadian Legion Branch 52 in order to help local veterans.
“The Legion is local and supporting local is always the favoured outcome. Especially because there is a lot of veterans in this area and we are hoping that with tabling next week some vets will look at us and say, ‘Hey, this is a great idea, I’d like to get involved with this,’” Bourke said.
Any of the money that doesn’t go towards adopting an animal and the year’s worth of supplies that will go along with the adoption will be donated to the Legion.
So far the Kappa Sigmas have raised $510 between their GoFundMe page and their Omicron Theta Founder’s Formal. Bourke says this amount is almost enough to provide a veteran with a cat. Cats in particular are the animals that Bourke and his fellow members are trying to connect veterans with.
“One of the original reasons I wanted to do this is because the SPCA is overflowing with cats right now, especially senior cats,” Bourke said. “We’re looking at hooking up a senior cat with a veteran so both kind of get that life-changing experience. That would be an amazing feeling for us.”
Pets for Vets help will not only those Canadian war veterans find a furry friend, but will also serve as a way to help break stereotypes surrounding fraternities, says Bourke.
“Fraternities get kind of a bad rap and our chapter is nothing like what you see on the news or in movies. We are not going out and doing bad stuff,” Bourke said. “We do a lot of fundraising for the community. Fraternities do a lot of good, a lot more than people give credit for.”
While the extra publicity is definitely appreciated, Bourke says, the main goal for Pets for Vets is still to help war veterans deal with PTSD through companionship.
“PTSD is something that a lot of war veterans deal with and studies have shown that the companionship of a pet can help lessen a lot of the side effects of PTSD,” Bourke said.