By Darren Myers
NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. – Penn State New Kensington (PSNK) clubs are mandated to fulfill a community service requirement each semester. A popular project that clubs are working on this semester is “Children Moving Easier.”
“Children Moving Easier” is an organization that helps foster kids move to and from different foster homes. The organization accepts gently used bags and luggage of any kind including drawstring gym bags and carry-on luggage. The bags are used to help the less fortunate kids carry their belongings wherever they go. The bags and luggage are due to each club’s adviser no later than April 15.
“Any type of bag is better than the garbage bag they’re currently using,” said freshman Kristy Parola, an active ROTC member, Athletic Training major, and founder of this bag project.
Typically, kids in foster homes do not have any type of bag to carry around the little clothing or toys they do have and are, therefore, forced to resort to carrying around a garbage bag.
Every $25 a club donates to “Children Moving Easier” is worth one hour of community service. Each club needs a minimum of $200 collected if they are considering participation in this project. Any club that would like to participate in this project will need to collect 20 bags and submit them to Parola for collection and final count for “Children Moving Easier.”
This project hits close to home for Parola since her younger sister was adopted from a foster home at the age of four, so she understands and has seen first-hand how each donation helps. “I feel for these kids,” says Parola, “there’s a lot of charities for cancer, which is great, but you don’t see a lot of things for kids of adoption.”
The bag project is a brand new idea. Parola had the idea in high school, but she found difficulty executing it. “You just have more freedom (in college) because there aren’t as many rules and regulations,” she said.
The PSNK Baseball Club has taken the bag project idea and ran with it, collecting over 50 bags as a group. When asked, during a phone interview, about collecting bags for their community service project, Treasurer of the Baseball Club and Electro-Mechanical Engineering and Technology major sophomore Dan Quast said, “The fact we were able to collect 50 (bags) with a fairly small team was incredible and that we would help just that many more kids was great news.”
Penn State New Kensington is not the only place gathering bags to donate. The Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) is also participating in this bag project. Parola is a part of the Air Force ROTC detachment 730 in Pittsburgh where she is involved in the community service flight. The idea for the bag project was originally brought up there and was then later brought to the attention of the Lion Ambassadors at Penn State.
Parola, also a Footwear Associate at Dick’s Sporting Goods at the Galleria at the Pittsburgh Mills, brought the idea of the bag project to her co-workers’ attention. By generous donation, the staff and company have donated 52 bags to the project.
Currently, the bag total sits at 150 and that number continues to rise. As the days go on, more and more bags are being delivered by clubs and students alike.
The deadline, previously planned for March 19, has been extended until Wednesday April 15, so there is still time to donate. The total number of bags donated will be announced on Monday, April 20. Parola will hang posters around campus informing everyone of how many bags were donated.
In previous years, clubs have completed a range of community service projects such as Penny Wars -where clubs set up tin cans in order to raise money. The cans are labeled with a particular organization or cause. At the end of the project, the money collected is then donated to the organization.
Last semester, other clubs also created baskets for the annual Basket Bingo event that took place in Café 780 and goes towards raising money for the campus’ THON organization. One club even donated a basket to the international students on campus.
These projects, however, are not the only community service projects that clubs can participate in. Clubs may choose a community service project of their own as long as it is pre-approved by Student Life Coordinator Lauren Blum.