Students and Teachers Serve Across City  

Friday, Oct. 13 brought nothing but good luck for the Penn Charter community, as hundreds of Upper School students and teachers scattered to 15 different Philadelphia zip codes to assist the community in a multitude of projects on the 20th annual Louis Savino Day of Service.

Groups fanned out to work with schools and nonprofit organizations that work toward resolving issues of poverty, homelessness and food insecurity, while others stayed on campus to help visiting eighth graders write their high school essays, or to craft ceramic bowls and plates to support the homeless.

At 25 different off-campus sites, Penn Charter served meals at a soup kitchen and homeless shelter, helped teach swimming class, cleaned up parks and neighborhoods, tended gardens, sorted clothing, cleaned and moved furniture, participated in reading and arts and crafts with children, and organized books. On campus, students helped eighth graders from Young Scholars Charter School write high school admission essays, while another group made bowls and plates to be used at Northwest Interfaith Hospitality Network’s Empty Bowl/Plate fundraisers.

They worked on projects with longstanding service partners Widener Memorial School, Whosoever Gospel Mission, Salvation Army Kroc Center and Share. Students and faculty got their hands dirty organizing and cleaning furniture at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, while others harvested and gardened a grassroots community garden and created a mosaic at Philly Peace Garden.

Others served morning meals at Face to Face soup kitchen and lunch at the Sunday Breakfast homeless shelter. They did arts and crafts with preschoolers at Baring House and facilitated recess games with kids at Playworks. Groups assisted with outdoor cleanup at Historic Rittenhouse Town, Bartram’s Garden and the Wissahickon Trail. Some got a behind-the-scenes tour of the PSPCA while also making dog and cat toys and reading to animals. 

The Day of Service was named for PC student Louis Savino, who died of an an undetected heart condition the night before the Day of Service in October 2000. Louis’s mother, Toni Pellegrini, and his aunt, Lorraine Sikora, visited Penn Charter for the student assembly.

The day was planned and run by the Center for Public Purpose, established in 2013, in part, to strengthen Penn Charter’s participation in the Philadelphia community and our role as a community resource. 

James Ballengee Hon. 1689, the Center for Public Purpose’s founder and former director of service learning at Penn Charter before his retirement, spoke to students before the day began. Ballengee implored them to keep fighting to make their communities stronger, better places, even when the odds seem stacked against them.

“So although the problems of the city, region and world seem as daunting as ever, do you opt in or opt out?” Ballengee asked.

“Yes to stay involved, or no and turn away from all of the problems? … It’s a lot of work to be open-minded and generous and understanding and forgiving and accepting, but this is what matters. What matters is saying yes.”

See photos.