MONACA, Pa. — In 2007, Penn State Beaver’s student affairs staff concocted an altruistic plan.
They invited students from six regional Penn State campuses to Beaver County on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The idea was to harness the power of Penn State, volunteering at numerous sites in the area and making a big impact on a small community in a short period of time.
The Penn State Regional MLK Day of Service event is now in its eighth year and rotates between seven campuses — Beaver, Altoona, Behrend, DuBois, Fayette, Greater Allegheny and New Kensington. This year, about a dozen students from Beaver will load into a 15-passenger van and travel to Penn State Greater Allegheny.
Many more will stay closer to home, performing random acts of kindness for members of the community, helping out at the Sisters of St. Joseph in Baden and conducting a popular “Sip ‘n Say” with the Franklin Center in the Student Union Lodge. Classes are cancelled due to the national holiday.
“I think our students are enthusiastic because so many of them live in the community and they feel the benefits of a day like this,” said Jennifer Toof, the Beaver campus’ coordinator for student activities and residence life.
Toof’s office co-sponsors the event — with the tagline “Make it a day on, not a day off” — with Beaver’s Student Government Association. Last year, Beaver hosted the regional campuses and sent volunteers to more than eight locations, cleaning at the Women’s Shelter and McGuire Memorial, ripping up old shrubs at Sisters of St. Joseph, painting at the YMCA and inviting community members to campus to discuss poverty and race.
“Being college students … we can live in a bubble that only becomes smaller when we stay on campus,” said Brianna D’Itri, a corporate communications major and SGA president. “It’s important for students to see who really lives around them, to see things they never had to see before or maybe just ignored.
“It’s a powerful experience we’re gaining from people in our own community. All it takes is us reaching out.”
To volunteer for the MLK Day of Service, contact Jennifer Toof, coordinator for student activities and residence life, at [email protected] or 724-773-3947.
If you participate in this year’s MLK Day of Service, please share your photos and experiences via social media. Use hashtag #psubrdayon.
Public Relations Director, Penn State Beaver