S. ABINGTON TWP. — Clarks Summit University cancelled classes on Thursday, Oct. 31. But it wasn’t a snow day or typical vacation day. The university provided this day off to encourage students to spend the day showing love to the community surrounding their campus.
Small groups of students from each of the university’s seven residence halls went out to serve organizations and people in the Abingtons and nearby areas.
Students volunteered at more than 20 locations – from neighbors’ homes and churches to places like the Abington Community Library, Griffin Pond Animal Shelter, Ackerly Field, Summit Christian Academy and The Gathering Place.
Laura Gardoski, head of youth services at the Abington Community Library, was glad to see the students giving back.
“With such a busy library, people are using it all the time, so anybody who can help put things in order and organize is helpful,” Gardoski said. “It’s nice to have more hands to do that.”
As a CSU alumna, she added, “Since I went to CSU, it’s cool to see the students get out to help the community.”
Amy Torba from Griffin Pond Animal Shelter said volunteering is a great benefit to their mission.
“Without volunteers, we couldn’t do the amount of adoptions we do,” Torba said. “It also helps broaden peoples’ horizons to see what goes on here. It takes a lot of time and teamwork to get it all done. One person can make such a big impact.”
At the shelter, CSU students cleaned floors and cages and met new furry friends in the community cat room.
At Summit Christian Academy, students volunteered in elementary and high school classrooms, serving as extra hands in teaching math, helping with spelling, reading to kids, prepping learning activities for teachers and making cookies for the Grandparent’s Day celebration the following day.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to see CSU students build into our SCA classrooms,” said SCA Principal Marianne Rivers. “It is also encouraging to see CSU students (who are) majoring in education have the opportunity to spend time in elementary and secondary classrooms.”
Through one of the residence halls, students go out each month to serve at local organizations, including SCA. Rivers is always encouraged by the volunteers from CSU who come to give a helping hand.
Although the main goal of this day is to serve the community, Community Appreciation Day ends up being beneficial to students as well.
Laura Abbott, a counseling major from Michigan, refers to the day as “an opportunity to love others and reach out, while getting involved in what is going on around us.”
Abbott spent her time serving coffee, cleaning and organizing at The Gathering Place. She’s grown to love the local nonprofit, where all sorts of classes and events are held and a beautiful art gallery resides, after volunteering each month with members of her residence hall.
Paula Baillie, a board member for The Gathering Place, expressed her appreciation.
“These young ladies addressed letters for our annual sustaining fund. They have cleaned for us. They’re creative. They look for various ways of helping us out and chronicling some of the things that we do here,” said Baillie.
Timothy Fisher, a student from Deerfield, New Hampshire, volunteered at neighbors’ homes with a group of men from his residence hall.
“Community Appreciation Day is super important because it gives us, as students, an opportunity to reach out and serve the community,” Fisher said. “There are some who are doing service like this for the first time, and it is a great opportunity to learn and fulfill the needs of others.”
He added it is a good reminder for him to look for the simple ways to serve people and a reminder of the impact serving others has on a community.
Eighty-five percent of the student body chose to spend the day serving instead of simply enjoying a day off for themselves.