By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer
Sixty-five Penn State students gave up a day off from classes on Monday to volunteer at nonprofit organizations in the Shenango Valley.
Students from campuses at DuBois, New Kensington, Greater Allegheny, Fayette and Beaver joined Penn Staters from Sharon for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
Student volunteers were hard to miss around town in their neon green T-shirts with a picture of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the words, “Make It A Day On, Not A Day Off” on the front and “Penn State Lives Here” on the back.
Before students split off to their assigned projects, they gathered at the Shenango Campus.
Erin Houston, 31, education director of the Farrell-based Shenango Valley Urban League was keynote speaker.
Houston spoke of keeping King’s dream alive through volunteer work.
“Everybody can be great because everyone can serve,” King said.
“Why are you here?” Houston asked students. “I want you to think of how you feel before you go to bed tonight.”
Houston received a standing ovation from the Penn Staters before they piled into vans that would take them to one of seven places: AWARE, Shenango Valley YMCA, the Y’s Chaver’s Community Center in Farrell, Children’s Center of Mercer County, Salvation Army and Buhl Community Recreation Center.
Shenango’s Student Government Association president and junior Kelvin Jordan, 44, of Sharpsville, led students in keeping true to King’s dream. Jordan is also youth minister at Second Baptist Church, Farrell.
Jordan and R.J. Singh, Greater Allegheny campus, were two of 16 students who spent their day at Buhl Rec Center in Sharon.
“Coming here as a child, I never thought I’d be doing this,” Jordan said. “This means a lot to me.”
“Everyone here is really on a shoestring so this really helps out,” said Debbie DiCarlo, the club’s program director.
Sophomore Bryan Kibe was stationed in the fitness center there. He traveled 2 hours and 15 minutes from the Fayette campus near DuBois.
Working out as Kibe cleaned machines in the center, club members said they appreciated his efforts.
“A lot of kids are home sitting on their computer, and they’re here to volunteer,” said Marc Gargano of Hermitage. “I give them a lot of credit. That’s impressive.”