Ashley Casem of Mountain Top, knows how it feels to help others in need. The physical therapy major at Misericordia University has been an active participant in various community service projects with her family and friends through her church’s youth group, volunteering at regional nursing homes and food banks.
Three days into the collegiate academic year, the first-year student added a global perspective to her service work by assisting Operation Christmas Child during the 3rd annual Orientation Day of Service at Misericordia University.
“It is definitely a positive experience just getting out and helping other parts of the world. It is a good experience,’’ said Ashley, whose older sister Amanda is enrolled in the occupational therapy program at Misericordia University. “I know I am so fortunate to have everything I do. It is so important to reach out and give gifts to others less fortunate.’’
Operation Christmas Child was one of 10 service projects organized by Campus Ministry for the annual Orientation Day of Service that students in the first-year and transfer classes participate in to acquaint themselves to the Back Mountain and to the service component of a Misericordia education. In all, 1,100 volunteer hours were donated to worthwhile community projects by more than 400 members of the campus community.
Inside Frank and Dorothea Henry Student Lounge, Misericordia students sit around a table covered in candy. On the other side of the room, students carefully tie four loose crayons together with string, while other groups of students assemble drawstring bags and package toiletry items for the project.
Operation Christmas Child is a year-round program by the New Life Community Church of Mountain Top. Through efforts by the church, parishioners and community, children in 130 countries around the world will receive care packages with toiletries, school supplies, toys, candy and school clothes.
Thousands of people in northeastern Pennsylvania enjoy the annual Luzerne County Fair in Lehman every fall. It features ethnic food, rides, entertainment and farm animals. It is also an annual service project for Misericordia students, who spruce up the grounds, install fencing and signage, and more. At the main gate, students spruce up the ticket booths with a fresh coat of paint.
A short distance from the fairgrounds, the recently dedicated Jean and Hal Flack Family Sports and Recreation Park also received some sprucing up along the trails and in flowerbeds thanks to Misericordia students.
With 180 cats, 35 dogs and five horses waiting to be adopted, the Blue Chip Animal Rescue is an all-volunteer organization in desperate need of college-aged muscle. Located about five miles from the Misericordia campus, the complex is a maze of crates, cages and corrals, with animals that need to be fed, walked and cleaned-up after.
For information about Misericordia University, call (570) 674-6400 or log on to www.misericordia.edu.