8 people pose together in an industrial kitchen. Food and plates is on counter.

Upper School students and teachers spent Dec. 11 engaged in service in nearby neighborhoods and across Philadelphia. The 22nd annual Louis T. Savino Day of Service supported more more than 20 different schools and nonprofit organizations.

"In keeping with the theme for the year, Honoring the Light, the Day of Service challenges students to interact and engage with people who are vulnerable and who have their own challenges, and we sometimes meet them on their worst days," said Sharon Ahram, assistant director of PC's Center for Public Purpose and organizer of the Day of Service. "How do we honor them, and also be able to treat people with the dignity and respect each human deserves? Our students always rise to that occasion. 

"We've received so much positive feedback from our partners at how well our students want to learn, are curious, are helpful and humbly kind," Ahram said. "And this is just one day out of the year that we have conversations and engage in public purpose. We do this the entire year, including throughout the summer."

Grouped by advisory, students worked at or for SHARE, Pennsylvania SPCA,  Whosoever Gospel Mission, Philadelphia Water Department, Tree House Books, Atria, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Widener Memorial School, Our Closet and the Our Closet pop-up shop at CHOP, MANNA, Cradles to Crayons, the PHIN ceramic bowls project, Broad Street Ministry, Furniture Bank, Inglis House, DePaul House, Turning Points, the Schuylkill Center, Sanctuary Farms and the Bethesda Project. See photos.

HS students and adults sort clothes at Cradles 2 Crayons

Shontae Smarr, director of the Philly Food Rescue Program, was the morning's keynote speaker. The Philly Food Rescue Program strives "to eliminate hunger and promote health in our community by utilizing a community-based volunteer network to rescue and redirect surplus food to organizations that serve households in need." Smarr spoke to students about her own experiences facing hardship and food insecurity herself, and about her path from childhood on the South Side of Chicago to leading a major organization and completing her MBA. 

The day is named in memory of Louis Savino, a Penn Charter sophomore who died from an undetected congenital heart condition on a neighborhood soccer field just before the Day of Service in 2000. 

The Day of Service follows on the heels of a successful Thanksgiving food drive in Upper, Middle and Lower Schools. Students collected nonperishable items, and families donated turkeys, resulting in 51 Thanksgiving meals for families in need at our longstanding service partner, Widener Memorial School.