At Philadelphia University, students are encouraged to form active and engaged relationships with the city of Philadelphia and surrounding neighborhoods through a variety of volunteer and service activities offered by the Office of Community Service.
One of the best examples of students expressing their commitment to the community is illustrated by their participation in Philadelphia University’s annual “PLUNGE” event. A service project that occurs before the start of each fall semester during new-student orientation, the event invites incoming students to “take the plunge” by lending their skills and talents to a service organization of their choice for an entire day. In the past, students have assisted in removing debris from neighborhood parks and streets, as well as mentoring disadvantaged youth and more.
Once acquainted with the local community and shown the importance of volunteering through PLUNGE, students receive numerous service-opportunity notices throughout the academic year. Some of the many volunteer and service opportunities offered to students during Philadelphia University’s Fall 2007 semester included raising awareness for AIDS care and domestic violence. Students raised funds and awareness for people with HIV/AIDS by participating in the city of Philadelphia’s annual AIDS Walk, held Oct. 21, where they walked eight miles, generating money to support organizations that provide education, outreach and direct care for those with the virus. In addition to supporting AIDS awareness, students also called for the end of domestic violence through the coordination of a candlelight vigil held on campus Oct. 2.
In time for the fall and winter holidays, students also donated canned goods in November to feed the hungry. Several donation bins were placed at strategic locations on campus, including residence halls, for one week. At the end of the week, students delivered the brimming bins to a local food bank benefiting Philadelphia’s hungry. Also in the spirit of giving, students from across campus came together to make holiday stockings and cards for Philadelphia’s sick children and troops serving overseas.
As successful as Philadelphia University’s fall community service efforts were, the Spring 2008 semester has the potential to achieve even greater results. Popular service events that typically occur during spring semesters include winter coat and clothing drives—where coats, jackets and other warm apparel are collected and donated to a local thrift store for distribution among the needy—as well as a service trip during students’ spring break. Last year, students solicited donations from family members, classmates, faculty and staff to travel to the small town of Greensboro, Ala., to aid in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. While there, students worked to restore a historic house, damaged by flooding and electrical fires, by installing siding and helping fix the home’s broken windows and porch.
In line with Philadelphia University’s goal of preparing students to be successful leaders in their careers and communities, students’ participation in volunteer and service activities not only expands their understanding of the world around them, but of themselves as well, helping them to become conscientious and contributing members of society.
Photo: Tim Butler, director of The Kanbar Campus Center and Student Activities, and community service student worker Leslie Giovinazzo ’08, Psychology, work together to offer students a variety of volunteer and service activities.