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Friday, August 23, 2013

Community Outreach Day At Penn State DuBois

New Students 'Reach Out' to Community

DuBois – As part of New Student Orientation, nearly 200 freshmen, and faculty and staff group leaders participated in the Penn State DuBois Community Outreach Day on Friday. The day began in the campus gymnasium where students were broken into groups and assigned a service site. Each group was led by a campus faculty or staff member, serving as an orientation leader, who then took students to their work site for the day. In all, the groups visited more than a dozen charitable and community-centered organizations. They performed landscaping, cleaning, litter pick up, and other duties in order to give back to their local communities around DuBois, Clearfield, Falls Creek, and beyond.

Sites visited included Bilger's Rocks in Grampian, Goodwill Industries in Falls Creek, Gateway Humane Society in Falls Creek, Big Brothers Big Sisters in Clearfield, Central PA Community Action in Clearfield, Downtown DuBois Revitalization, the DuBois Historical Society, DuBois Nursing Home, the Freed Medical Clinic in DuBois, Paint and Play of DuBois, Rumbarger Cemetery in DuBois, Adopt-A-Highway on Route 219 near DuBois, the Reitz Theater in DuBois, the Bucktail Council of the Boy Scouts of America in DuBois, and the Tri County Church in DuBois.

At Goodwill Industries in Falls Creek, students worked on landscaping around the warehouse where donations are processed before being sent to Goodwill stores. Tom Glasl, Goodwill's chief financial officer, said the students where a great help, and exemplified the very mission of his organization. "Community service is at the core of our business, without community service, Goodwill would not exist in DuBois," he said. "Having the Penn State students here is the kind of thing we need for the younger generations to learn about Goodwill, and maybe become future donors. It's also a great chance for them to learn about service."

Glasl said what students learn about service by participating in outreach activities such as this are lessons that will stick with them. He said, "Working with any nonprofit, it's just invaluable to the kids. I think every college should do this and start their year off with some community service work."

Those sentiments were certainly shared by the students, who didn't take long to realize the reach of their impact once they arrived at their sites and started to put faces with the organizations.

"This is great. It's good to be out here," said freshman Kevin Hale, of Curwensville, who volunteered at Goodwill. "It makes you feel good as a person to help other people."

"I just think it's awesome that Penn State DuBois is doing this," agreed fellow Goodwill volunteer Alpha Longoria of Clearfield. "It shows that we're not just about learning, we're about helping, too."

Students serving at each site had similar attitudes. Over at the office for the Bucktail Council of the Boy Scouts of America, students worked inside and out to help with building maintenance. Outdoors they took on landscaping projects, trimming bushes and pulling weeds from flower beds. Inside, they cleaned display cases containing Boy Scouts memorabilia, washed windows, and more.

Freshman Molly Stoltz, of DuBois, said that she not only felt good about helping a community organization, but working alongside her new classmates allowed her the chance to develop new relationships. "I think it's a really good idea to do this. We're working together. It helps us get to know each other and get to know people around the community," said Stoltz. "If every university did this, you would have tons of good stuff going on around the country."

Penn State DuBois Assistant Director of Student Affairs Marly Doty said she was happy to hear how students and organizational representatives, such as Glasl, felt about Community Outreach Day. She said instilling in students a passion for service, early on, can add meaning and value to their education, and even to their future careers.

"It's important that students engage in community service right off the bat. It teaches them about social responsibility and places where they can get involved," Doty said. "That blossoms into future projects, community service trips, and even jobs. They're making connections, meeting people, and giving back. It increases their odds for success and builds a stronger community all at the same time."

Photo: From left, students James Best, Crystal Foster, and Molly Stoltz work cleaning up the landscaping around the Boy Scouts of America's Bucktail Council Office in DuBois

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