Penn State’s State Day of Service
Saturday, February 28 was an interesting day in downtown State College. It was plenty cold—as in below ten degrees when I rolled out of bed at 7:00 a.m. People were thinking spring; it’s been a long winter in Happy Valley. While there was one more week of Penn State’s semester before kids head off to Spring Break, the sap has already started to run.
Penn State’s THON had taken place the prior weekend. It raised $13 million—yes, million—to fight pediatric cancer at the Hershey Medical Center. In addition to being the season of THON, it’s basketball season. However, as every knows, basketball isn’t a huge deal in State College. While Penn State’s men’s and women’s teams occasionally make a splash and have high hopes for post-season play, it’s not a regular thing. While there are smaller athletic and cultural events going on, there’s a weekend long lull in the social calendar of much of the student population.
A student-grown party-centric event has grown into this void. Yes, the one I’m not going to mention by name. It’s popular enough that there are lines at bars during the day and a noticeable presence of loud, green-clad, twentysomethings in downtown State College. For the most part they act like what you’d think twentysomethings in green shirts who started to drink at 8:00 a.m. would act like. In other words, no matter if you date boys or girls, they’re not the kind of folks you’d take home to mother.
There’s a significant population of Penn State students who don’t engage in this faux wearing of the green. This year over 600 students participated in Penn State’s State Day of Service. This great event gives students the opportunity to volunteer at a variety of non-profits and similar organizations in the area. It was a part of the THAW Festival, an effort to bring together an eclectic mix of what used to be called “art house” films, live music, comedy shows, and other events to town.
We were fortunate to have six young women from Kappa Alpha Theta sorority come to the Festival office. For over two and a half hours, four of them inventoried folded, and stacked vintage festival t-shirts. The remaining two organized several hundred old Festival posters given to us by our poster designer, Lanny Sommese. All of the young women were bright, cheerful, and hard working.
Because of their work, our office is tidier, and it’s much easier for us to fulfill an order for a vintage festival poster. I don’t know when it will be Penn State’s State Day of Service again, but we’ll definitely be signing up.
It’s Spring Break now and downtown State College is deserted. I don’t miss the kids in the green shirts, but I miss their classmates in blue and white, and I’m looking forward to seeing them in another week.