Seven projects in six days

Penn State New Kensington’s week of service impacts local community and beyond
Students stuffing envelopes at table

Penn State New Kensington students stuff envelopes for the campus' THON team efforts during the Week of Service events in September.

Credit: Penn State New Kensington Student Life

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. – Penn State New Kensington students, staff and faculty completed seven service projects in six days, making an impact on the local Alle-Kiski region and beyond. Between Sept. 10 and 15, the various on-campus and off-campus projects totaled to more than 200 hours of service completed by more than 50 members of the campus community.

“We’re just looking to make the biggest impact we can on our community,” said Michele Marcks, assistant director of student affairs.

Projects during the week included kicking off a month-long food drive to benefit the Westmoreland County Food Bank; folding flags that were sent to active military members stationed overseas; stuffing envelopes for this year’s campus THON efforts; making tug toys for the Animal Protectors animal shelter in New Kensington; completed landscaping projects at the shelter; and participating in the “Rocking for Residents” event at Vincentian Senior Citizens Home.

Day of Caring volunteer sign

A United Way Day of Caring volunteer sign in front of a volunteer team of faculty and staff members from Penn State New Kensington. The campus team spent the annual Day of Caring painting a hospitality building at Northmoreland Park in Apollo, Pa. The event also coincided with the campus' Week of Service event.

Credit: Corinne Coulson

The week’s events also coincided with United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s Day of Caring on Sept. 14. For the past five years, a team of staff and faculty from the campus participate in the Day of Caring to help local organizations. This year, the team ventured to Apollo, Pennsylvania, and painted a hospitality facility at Northmoreland Park, part of the Westmoreland County Parks system. Past Day of Caring activities included painting projects at the Valley Points Family YMCA in New Kensington, book cleaning at People’s Library in New Kensington and exterior painting at the Westmoreland County Food Bank Warehouse in Delmont.

While all the projects during the week were impactful, Marcks said one moment, in particular, stood out to her.

“On Sept. 11, we did flag folding,” explained Marks. “They were mini flags that were also being sent with a note for soldiers overseas. At least three of our veteran students came by and said how meaningful projects like that were to those in the service, and then they joined in helping and writing notes. It was one of those moments where you could observe something full circle.”

Marks hopes the students who helped complete the multiple projects know that there is more to being a college student outside of class.

“I hope that giving back to others and taking a moment out of their busy days to do something for someone else really helped them reflect and see that they can have a difference in their communities and abroad,” said Marcks.

Although the Week of Service has ended, that doesn’t mean service projects are complete for the year. Marcks is looking forward to Penn State New Kensington hosting other Penn State campuses from western Pennsylvania for the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service in January.

“Instead of a day off, we make it a day on for service,” said Marks. “This year, our campus is hosting, and we’ll be able to help in the local New Kensington community.”

If students are interested in participating in service projects or other activities, they can visit the Student Life office on campus to learn more. They can also reach out to Marks by emailing her at [email protected].