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Framing the Power of Service

SkillsUSA Pennsylvania students and teachers rally to support at-risk community members.
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From L-R: Director of the SCCTC Dr. Alice Davis, Carpentry instructor Bruce Castelli , Para Educator Elizabeth Hanyon and students Ricardo Hernandes, Sydney Baker and Wyatt Johnson. Photo courtesy of Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center.

SkillsUSA carpentry and cabinetmaking students at the Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center (SCCTC) in Springville, Pa., learn to build many impressive things during their time in the classroom. Last spring, one of the most beautiful was a project that didn’t involve one piece of wood. The material-of-choice for this project was a shared commitment to service, as students gathered donations of nonperishable food, gently used clothing and blankets for their local Trehab Community Action Agency. (Trehab serves at-risk groups over six rural counties in Northeastern Pennsylvania.) As a result, dozens of boxes of clothing and food were donated in just one month.

SCCTC sophomores Sydney Baker, Wyatt Johnson and Ricardo Hernandez took the lead in organizing the project. They made flyers to hand out and post in the six schools that send students to SCCTC, and their fellow carpentry and cabinetmaking students helped organize the donations in the class shop.

“I was very happy to do this project knowing that we helped people,” Hernandez exclaims. “It also helped build a strong friendship between the three of us.”

Baker adds, “This project helped us develop better relationships with our instructors and gave us a feeling of accomplishment and confidence in public speaking that we didn’t have before our project.”

Johnson agrees, saying, “It showed me the work that goes into clothing drives and the amount of initiative needed to make them possible.”

“Every year, I enter three students into the SkillsUSA Community Service competition,” says carpentry and cabinetmaking instructor Bruce Castelli. “These students worked well together and I’m very proud of the job they did.”

The project culminated with Hernandez, Baker and Johnson documenting their efforts and submitting them for state competition at the SkillsUSA Pennsylvania State Leadership & Skills Conference, held April 7 in Hershey. The community service competition scores were close, and the team earned fourth place, just 15 points from a bronze medal. The experience, however, was worth its weight in gold. “These students learned the importance of helping others,” says Alice M. Davis, executive director. “These donations benefitted many families in the community, and I’m extremely proud of these students for taking charge of the project. To see the pride and determination of these individuals to make this a positive experience for all involved was incredible to witness.”

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