Penn Charter's 11th and 12th grades spread out across Philadelphia in late September for a day dedicated to service and the wider community. Students showed up in a big way for local organizations and PC partners.
"Our students were out and about supporting the organizations we supported through the pandemic," said Assistant Director of the Center for Public Purpose Sharon Ahram. "It was great to see the work in-person and together."
Students prepared food at MANNA, sorted and packed food at Small Things Philly and SHARE. They tended trees and built picnic benches at the Sankofa Community Farm at Bartram's Garden. A large group cleaned up debris left by the Hurricane Ida flooding and cleared the path beside the Schuylkill River at the Fairmount Water Works. Several groups sorted, organized and cleaned furniture for the Philadelphia Community Corps and the Philadelphia Furniture Bank at Pathways to Housing. They cleared invasive species and repaired fence enclosures at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. Students sorted clothing and other goods at Cradles to Crayons (C2C), one of PC's community partners that engages students in each division in different ways throughout the year, like during C2C's recent diaper drive.
Students and faculty agreed it was great to engage in this work and photos on Flickr show that joy in the community was high.
"The pandemic laid bare the needs in our communities that have existed for years, and those needs — food insecurity, access to housing and clothing, and environmental issues — continue," said Ahram. "Without missing a beat, these organizations continued to provide services to the community. And they give us the tremendous opportunity to be part of that."
At Small Things Philly, a nonprofit that works with other organizations to provide meals to those in need, 55 students packed 3,000 boxes of food. At the close of the day, a leader from Small Things Philly praised the PC students, "You were such a fantastic group! Our whole team commented on it and, oh my goodness, did you WORK!!"
The day was a mobilization of PC students into the community, but not a one-off event. PC students continue to spend time at these organizations and on their behalf, addressing pressing issues. At lunch just days later, the Service Council made more than 75 sandwiches to be placed at the East Falls Community Fridge, where individuals experiencing food insecurity can find free food any time.