A Friends school, pre-K to 12, on 47 acres in East Falls, Philadelphia


PC Students Partner with 25 Community Groups During Annual Days of Service

PC Students Partner with 25 Community Groups During Annual Days of Service

Engaged, excited, helpful, inspired. That's how Upper and Middle School teachers described students who lived out the school’s mission during their divisional Day of Service. These days are just two examples of PC students coming together to practice community, creative problem-solving and civic responsibility.

Penn Charter Day of Service at Habitat
Penn Charter Day of Service Manna

“The Day of Service aligns with this school year’s theme of stewardship, in which our student body demonstrates a commitment to cleaning up the environment and taking care of each other in the community where we live, work and play,” said Sharon Ahram, Penn Charter’s interim assistant director of Upper School, 12th grade dean, and assistant director of the Center for Public Purpose (CfPP).

Since 1998, the Upper School Day of Service continues to be an important part of the school’s community. During this year’s event on April 20, Upper School students participated in 11 different projects in specific areas of need throughout Philadelphia. Each project was thoughtfully organized by the CfPP in collaboration with community partners. Students worked with organizations like the Mitzvah Circle, which provides items not covered by government assistance such as clothing, toothpaste and diapers; Widener Memorial School, a school for students with disabilities; Manna, where students prepared meals for the unhoused; and North Philly Peace Park, where students helped with gardening and cleanup. 

Maria Horowitz, from the Philadelphia Water Department, Office of Watersheds, was appreciative of the students’ efforts in cleaning up Tacony Creek. Horowitz reported that PC’s group of 30 Upper School students and three chaperones removed 64 bags of trash, 15 tires, two couches, several piles of construction waste, and four bags of leaves that will be reused in the park department composting program. 

“In all,” Horowitz said, “we are estimating that this group helped remove 2,730 pounds of waste! That is pretty impressive for just a few hours of work.” The group also helped rehabilitate the sports fields for the Boy & Girls Clubs, making them free of old leaves and litter.

Middle School students followed in their older peers’ footsteps on May 5 by participating in 15 service projects during their annual Darryl J. Ford Day of Service, named after Penn Carter’s head of school who started his tenure as Director of Middle School in the late 1990s. 

Penn Charter students day of service

Fittingly, Ford kicked off this year’s Day of Service by speaking to Middle School students during a morning assembly and sharing his leadership lessons. “Show up and work hard, meet people where they are, try to be likable, help people feel good, and be humble,” said Ford. He also reminded the students that it doesn’t matter if a person leads from the front or the back, as long as one is motivated to lead and fight for a cause that is important to them.

Students in Jennifer Chernak’s sixth grade advisory class volunteered at Food Moxie, an organization that provides green, homegrown food for people. 

“We were able to stay calm and really connect with nature and the animals,” sixth grader Maddy Bassing said. 

One challenge the group encountered was how to move soil into the garden beds. Thinking creatively, some students suggested using the tarp as a tool to move the dirt. It worked! The group teamed up and learned the process of making raised garden beds with wood and tools. 

Nicole Duffy’s seventh grade advisory class contributed to the preservation of the Wyck House, a historical site built in 1690 in Germantown, with the purpose of strengthening community engagement and the environment. The students weeded, spread topsoil, planted flowers and seeds, and created a new children’s garden.

Penn Charter Day of Service at Our Closet

Four eighth grade advisory classes volunteered at Cradles to Crayons, an organization that provides children, some of whom may be unhoused, with the essential items they need to thrive at home, at school and at play. Students wrote encouraging letters to children who have barriers to attending school in hopes of giving them some extra confidence with their schoolwork. They also cleaned and sorted books and shoes that will be donated to children ages 0-12.

“We got to help out Our Closet, where we helped organize their warehouse and sort their clothing,” said 8th grader Chelsea Gadsen. “Doing service is a fulfilling experience and it gives a person a real perspective on their own life.”

All of this work could not have been done without Penn Charter’s partnership with local organizations. Through these community relationships, students gain the skills and competencies to live lives that make a difference.


Upper School Volunteer Locations

  • Cradles to Crayons
  • Habitat for Humanity-Restore
  • Historic Rittenhouse
  • Manna
  • Mitzvah Circle
  • Philadelphia Horticultural Society
  • Philadelphia Water Department and Boys & Girls Club
  • Share Food Program
  • Schuylkill Center
  • Small Things Philly
  • Widener Memorial School

Middle School Volunteer Locations

  • Cliveden
  • Cradles to Crayons
  • DePaul House
  • Face to Face
  • Food Moxie
  • Germantown Avenue Crisis Ministry
  • Grumblethorpe
  • Historic RittenhouseTown
  • Johnson House
  • North Philly Peace Park
  • Our Closet
  • Sanctuary Farms
  • Share Food Program
  • Whosoever Gospel Mission
  • Wyck House

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