Assembling a committed team of fundraisers in less than a month, Pennsylvania College of Technology students are now part of Penn State's THON fight against pediatric cancer.
Echoing the rallying cry of "For the kids," nearly 30 members of the Penn College Benefiting THON student organization volunteered for the season's first weekend of "canning" (Sept. 27-29). Canning involves members standing alongside well-traveled area streets, carrying canisters to collect donations from passing cars and pedestrians.
The college is a special mission affiliate of Penn State, where THON - the world's largest student-run philanthropy - is based.
Penn College students canning for THON in late September are, from left, Karissa Kulp, a health information technology major from Boyertown; and Claudia N. Naylor and Rebecca F. Thompson, both dental hygiene: health policy and administration concentration majors from Littlestown.
Even though the Penn College chapter only was five days old at the start of the kickoff weekend, its members raised more than $8,500 in South Williamsport, Montoursville, Loyalsock Township and Danville. Canning continued Oct. 18-20, when an additional $1,682 was collected, and will conclude Friday through Sunday.
One-hundred percent of the money raised is donated to THON.
"It has been an absolutely amazing time, and we are all realizing how much of an impact we are making as a team," noted Madeline A. Lusk, a physician assistant major from State College and co-chair of the Penn College group.
During the year, groups of students throughout the Penn State system organize events and go canning to raise money for the Four Diamonds Fund. In February, all of the groups come together in the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park for a 46-hour dance marathon that is packed with fun activities and inspiring stories from families that have benefited from the fund.
More than 15,000 students across Pennsylvania are estimated to annually participate in THON. Last year alone, students collected $12.37 million for the Four Diamonds Fund and, since the dance marathon's inception in 1977, have raised more than $100 million.
The Four Diamonds Fund works with the Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital to cover any medical costs of pediatric cancer patients that are not met by health insurance. The fund also provides emotional support to families: counselors, social workers, music therapists and other specialists allied in the battle against cancer.
"Although Penn College has just begun its journey to THON 2014, our students have already shown an outpouring of support," Lusk said. "The group is hopeful that, through raising funds and awareness and providing support to children and their families, pediatric cancer will one day be eradicated."
Multiple local fundraisers are planned for the coming months, including a 5K Jingle Jog in late November.
Checks can be made payable to Penn State Dance Marathon - with "Penn College 1361" written on the memo line - and sent to Penn State Dance Marathon Finance, 210 HUB, University Park, PA 16802.
Interested donors also can visit www.THON.org, click "Donate Now" and select Penn College as their organization of choice.