Members of Penn State Worthington Scranton's Community Human Service Organization (CHSO) knew they had to do something when they heard of the devastating earthquake that recently hit Haiti -- destroying cities and towns and killing thousands. The tragedy really hit home when it became known that two of their fellow students have relatives who live in Haiti.
So, they banded together and came up with two opportunities for themselves and the Worthington Scranton campus community to contribute to the relief that the American Red Cross is providing.
CHSO members Erika Mills and Andrea Summa helped organize the events, pulling them together within days, said Dr. Matt Mutchler, CHSO adviser and assistant professor of human development and family studies (HDFS) at Worthington Scranton.
The first event the students participated in was a Spin-a-Thon organized by the local Red Cross chapter at Brown's Gym in Clarks Summit, where close to 20 Worthington Scranton students and three faculty members peddled for two hours between the hours of 5 and 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
The Spin-a-Thon was covered live by local television WNEP-16, and students Geraldine Ferrer and Ellen Alexandre, who both have family members in Haiti, were interviewed by reporter Ryan Leckey.
It was designed to raise awareness of the Red Cross' activities in Haiti and how people can donate. The event was broadcast live on WNEP-TV's morning new's program's Leckey Live segment. Videos of the event, labeled Helping Haiti, can be viewed at ryanleckey.com/leckey-live-videos/.
The Spin-a-Thon was designed to give people ideas about what they could do to raise funds for people in Haiti, said Charlotte Wright, director of community affairs for the American Red Cross of Lackawanna County. "With the PSU students and students from local high schools, we were able to give viewers ideas for similar fundraisers," she said.
Worthington Scranton participants were: Brianne Capwell, Cameron Canning, Jenevieve Claus, Ms. Ferrer, Jessica Jones, Rebecca Kinsey, Katie Matthias, Ms. Mills, Joe Molnar, Shane Quinn, Ms. Summa, Habiba Tajak, Sara VanLeuven, Mari Williams and Vinny Yazurlo.
Also, faculty members Dr. Mutchler, Dr. Janet Melnick, senior HDFS instructor, and Dr. Parminder Parmar, associate professor of HDFS.
Throughout the broadcast, viewers were able to contact the Red Cross to donate during the program, and those funds will be combined with other monies that are being raised by the Red Cross, explained Ms. Wright.
The students also quickly organized a second campus fundraiser, "The Paw Peddle". For the next two weeks, CHSO club members will be selling paper Nittany Lion paw prints for $1 in the cafeteria during lunch hour. The paws, which are inscribed with the purchaser's name, are then displayed in the windows of the campus' View Café in the Study Learning Center.
In the first two days of the effort, club adviser Dr. Mutchler, said the group raised over $150. That and all future proceeds from the fundraiser will be donated to the American Red Cross' fund for Haiti.