After a year of dedication and uninterrupted THON fundraising efforts, many Penn State students have increased their free time — along with a continued spirit of generosity and community spirit — as the spring semester continues. .
At the end of the 50th THON weekend on Sunday, Penn State volunteers announced the fundraising total at $13,756,374.50, a number to which thousands of students and community members have contributed all throughout the 2021-22 season.
However, with THON 2022 coming to an end, many students need new outlets to direct their philanthropic spirit. Here are five ways to keep your “We Are” spirit alive in the weeks ahead.
1. Spread some positivity in the local community by writing letters to those who need a smile the most.
Many seniors and nursing home residents experience social isolation and loneliness as they move into the facilities and move away from their previous homes and lifestyles.
According to a study recorded by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, more than half of residents living in nursing homes – excluding those with diagnosed cognitive impairments – reported feelings of isolation and loneliness. .
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, many older people living in assisted living facilities and nursing homes have experienced increased periods of isolation due to safety measures. In an attempt to reduce the loneliness of the elderly, many projects and initiatives have been launched to send letters and care packages to the elderly.
Although State College is generally associated with the college-aged population, numerous nursing facilities exist in the local community, including University Park Nursing Home and Juniper Village at Brookline Wellspring Memory Care.
One way to continue service efforts in the local community is to make homemade cards for people living in seniors’ residences. This activity is ideal for creative people and those who like to use art to relax after a long day.
To make the experience more enjoyable, you can also write a kind note to your immediate family members. For example, your grandparents might appreciate a nice surprise in the mail – beyond the typical bills and advertisements.
You may also consider writing to people serving in the armed forces and deployed away from home. Letters can provide encouragement while abroad and be a positive reminder of home for those in unfamiliar ground.
Many organizations help civilians send letters to military troops and soldiers stationed overseas, including Soldiers’ Angels and A Million Thanks. Some programs even coordinate pen pal initiatives between military personnel and interested civilians, which can foster relationships and community spirit.
On a more grassroots level, the Dear Hero program is an on-campus organization at Penn State dedicated to boosting the morale of military personnel and their families. Beyond fundraisers and visits to local veterans hospitals, program members also write letters to deployed troops and veterans to express their thanks and support.
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2. Help children – or your peers – grow academically and personally through tutoring and mentorship opportunities.
Do you excel in biology, geometry, literature or statistics? If you fully understand particular areas, put your skills to good use and teach those around you to improve their understanding and overall performance.
Amid the pandemic, teaching has shifted to virtual environments, making it difficult for many people to retain necessary academic information about each of their classes. In fact, according to 2020 projections published by NBC News, the average student returning to school retains only 63-68% of learning gains in reading and a much lower percentage in math compared to previous years.
Due to the pandemic and changing learning environments, many students – of all age groups – have turned to tutoring services to improve their learning outcomes.
A 2021 GlobeNewswire article advocated the growth of the tutoring market as educational needs increased.
However, some people find it more difficult to seek help or afford the services available, and this is where the opportunities for students to help the local community grow.
With improvements in telecommunications, help could reach across the world. If you know an area well and can help those around you, consider offering your services as a tutor or mentor.
You can also educate others about your favorite hobbies, whether it’s artistic pursuits like knitting, sports skills like running improvement, or musical instruments like guitar or piano. . Whatever content is taught, one-on-one instruction from others allows for a customizable and attentive learning environment.
If you want to provide advice and assistance within the community without teaching a particular skill, you can also sign up for a mentorship program to be matched with particular people who need a friend or mentor. model.
For example, if you want to make meaningful connections with others, consider joining the Penn State Best Buddies branch, a nonprofit organization that fosters relationships between volunteers and people with disabilities.
Being involved in Vrais Buddies would allow you to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to feel less isolated and more included in the community.
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3. Donate your time to a local organization or program, such as a food pantry, blood drive, or animal shelter.
Many local organizations need volunteers throughout the year to maintain their operations and provide assistance to those in need.
Beyond physical donations of food and money, The Lion’s Pantry is also looking for student volunteers to help maintain the facility by organizing items, composting expired goods and organizing shelves, according to The Lion’s website. Lion’s Pantry.
If you’d rather take a more hands-on role in the fight against food insecurity, volunteer with the university’s pocket gardens, which are located in the center of campus and produce fresh fruits and vegetables for the school’s pantry. the university.
The Red Cross Student Club is another organization to get involved with in the coming months, as the organization hosts two to three blood drives per week on campus.
Whether you actively donate blood or are eligible to do so, there are many volunteer positions and roles that need to be filled when organizing blood drives. Volunteers are needed to help register and greet donors, run the post-donation snack stand, and encourage community members to donate, among other activities.
If you are an animal lover, you can also look for volunteer opportunities at local animal shelters and animal rights organizations. For example, Center County PAWS needs an assortment of volunteers to help maintain daily operations.
Simply research your interests and find an organization or program that makes you feel fulfilled and positively impact those around you.
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4. Become a member of a volunteer organization run by students at Penn State.
There are many organizations whose main purpose is to provide services and help to the community. For example, Circle K offers students an array of volunteer opportunities in the State College area. By joining such an organization, you would be exposed to several volunteer opportunities that you might never have considered before.
Scrolling down the OrgCentral organization page, some students may assume that Penn State has a club for virtually every social cause and community involvement.
For example, if you’re interested in making a difference for women’s rights, you may find your niche at Days for Girls at Penn State. The organization is dedicated to ending period poverty and raising awareness of alternative menstrual products better suited for sustainability.
Plus, if you love advocating for mental health, you can take advantage of the DMAX Club at Penn State. The club strives to raise awareness of mental health issues and create open dialogue within the campus community.
If you would like to continue volunteering in the cancer community, consider working with Relay For Life at Penn State, an organization dedicated to raising awareness and monetary funds for the American Cancer Society. At the end of the year, the organization organizes a walk-a-thon event to raise awareness in the community.
Begin your THON efforts for the 2023 event.
Although the THON weekend has just ended, that doesn’t mean you can’t start looking forward to next year. As the saying goes, “The early bird catches the worm.” Start fundraising for next year with the excitement and fervor of the THON weekend always in mind.
To keep breaking records every year, you have to start early and keep working towards your goal.
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