DUNMORE, Pa. — Penn State Worthington Scranton students have been spending the cold winter months working to give back to the community, hoping to bring the campus and the region it calls home closer together to help those who need it most.
The Penn State Worthington Scranton Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) Community Club has been partnering with United Neighborhood Centers of Northeast Pennsylvania for a variety of community service projects around the Scranton area recently.
The services are an effort by students to give back to those who are less fortunate and let them know that someone cares and wants to help.
Jim Tuttle, Deanna Edwards and Anthony Keith, among other members of the HDFS Community Club, have been volunteering twice a week at the United Neighborhoods Center, helping to organize and carry out community service projects around the city.
One of the efforts that the students of the HDFS Community Club undertook was a winter clothing drive on campus. Club members set up donation boxes around the Dawson Building, collecting coats, shoes, scarves and winter hats that were then donated to needy families and individuals living in Scranton, as well as other towns throughout Lackawanna County.
Tuttle, HDFS Club president, was enthusiastic about the work that the club, and the campus, has already done for the local community.
“We’ve gotten a great turnout from the campus this year, not just from club members. A lot of students have donated good quality clothing for us,” Jim said, gathering together several bags of coats and heavy scarves.
Thanks in part to the success of the winter clothes drive, Tuttle and the club hope to expand its community service ambitions even further, looking to participate in an assortment of other projects meant to help all different kinds of Scranton residents.
“We’re hoping to do a food drive next. We’re also hoping to work with the local Women’s Resource Center in the future,” Tuttle said, referring to the Women’s Resource Center of Scranton, which provides support and services for female, and male, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking in Lackawanna and Susquehanna counties.
With future social service and community-organizing careers in mind, Tuttle and the members of the club see the community service they’re doing as valuable preparation for when they graduate and enter the world of non-profit and charitable organizations full-time.
Tuttle himself hopes to work for the Children’s Advocacy Center of Northeast Pennsylvania (CAC) in Scranton, a private, non-profit, charitable organization whose mission is to provide excellence in the assessment and treatment of child abuse and neglect.
“I think this gets myself and other students acquainted with the people who make up these agencies, which is good preparation for us, since many of us want to go out and work at these centers. When I graduate I’d like to work for the CAC, so doing this work helps us to meet all the people that help these centers to run.”
Penn State Worthington Scranton’s HDFS faculty members have also been an enormous help for the club, aiding student members in discovering and organizing new community service projects, as well as providing the resources that allows the club to put as much effort as possible into community wellness.
“The professors have been great as well. Tim McNichols, [lecturer in mathematics] and Professor [Melissa] LaBuda have been a huge help for us during this drive,” Tuttle said.
LaBuda, assistant teaching professor in HDFS and faculty advisor for the HDFS club, expressed her happiness with the club and is eager to work with Tuttle on future projects that he’d like to organize.
“I am very proud of the initiatives that the members of the HDFS Community Club have taken on this semester. The initiatives both engage the student body and help the community. I’ll support any initiatives that the HDFS Community Club wants to begin that will engage the student body and help the community at the same time,” LaBuda said.
In the coming months, Tuttle and the members of the club will be participating in several community events that are being held around Scranton.
One of them is the University of Scranton’s "Take Back the Night" rally, to be held on Thursday, April 26. Take Back the Night is an annual rally against sexual assault and harassment meant to support those who were victimized by sexual violence.
The rally is held during April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, to emphasize the need for more enforcement against predators. The occasion is organized for Scranton with the help of the Jane Kopas of the Women’s Center at the University of Scranton.
Another event the club will be participating in is the Child Abuse Awareness Pinwheel Garden, meant to raise awareness of child abuse in our area, as well as show appreciation for those parents, teachers, and siblings that work to make childhood a happy and positive experience.
Each year, students, staff, faculty and community volunteers place dozens of pinwheels around the area surrounding the campus’ Nittany Lion Shrine. The pinwheels themselves symbolize the carefree and innocent childhoods that we want for all of our children, no matter who they are or where they live.
If you’d like to be a part of the HDFS Community Club, or if you’d like to get involved in the Take Back The Night or Pinwheel Garden events, contact Tuttle at [email protected] or LaBuda at [email protected], or come to one of the club’s meetings. The more volunteers, the more help Penn State can offer the community.