Top organization logs 806 service hours


LaDonna McCrary

Catholic Campus Ministry member Becca LaBar (front) weaves a mat out of grocery bags from a recent food drive. | Photo courtesy of LaDonna McCrary

Rachel Logan, Copy Editor

According to a student organizations report, Catholic Campus Ministry members logged 806 community service hours last semester.

The next highest count was the Cheerleading team, with 144 logged hours.

No other organization had more than 100 logged hours.

Campus Activities and Engagement Director Heather Hall said that some organizations, like Habitat for Humanity (in fourth with 65 logged hours), have larger-scale service events in the spring.

Many clubs whose members Hall said were actively advertising and working with her on community service events did not make the top five, including the Delta Chi fraternity and the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority.

Hall said Pitt-Johnstown was listed on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for 2015, the sixth time the campus community has made the list.

Hall said that organization leaders should log their hours, both for their own record and for community pride.

Catholic Campus Minister LaDonna McCrary said her group tries to do a service project every month, ranging from coat drives to helping teach Sunday school at local churches.

McCrary said one of the things they’re working on now is taking grocery bags from a food drive and weaving mats out of them to give to homeless people.

“These mats are gorgeous. We’ll take them on our mission trip,” she said.

She said, to make them, group members turn a bunch of grocery bags into a ball, then knit them together with crochet needles. The mats have loops on the corners so that they can be carried across someone’s shoulders.

McCrary said she plans to take group members to Camden, New Jersey, for their end-of-the-year trip this year, although they also frequent Philadelphia.

“Camden has one of the highest crime rates in the U.S. It’s a little more intense than Philly.”

She said students wanted to work at a wet shelter there, where those in need can come in high or inebriated and receive food and a place to sleep.

McCrary said the group also hosts retreats for grade-school groups in the Cambria Room or Whalley Memorial Chapel, sometimes working with 50 to 60 kids from first grade or high school.

She said anyone interested in getting involved may attend the group’s Faith Share events at 8 p.m. Tuesdays in the chapel.

Cheer President Emily Kaczmarek said that many of her team’s hours came from volunteering at October’s Light the Night walk and a fall festival at Westmont’s Hilltop Elementary School.

Kaczmarek said biology professor Jill Henning reached out to them about the festival.

“Of course, we said ‘yes’—we love doing events like the fall festival where we get to interact with the surrounding community.

“For this festival, not only did we put together a performance for everyone, but we also helped to run various activities and stayed after to help clean up everything at the elementary school.”

Team members are always looking for opportunities to give back to the school and the community, she said, and will work with those who ask them to volunteer.

Delta Chi fraternity Vice President Connor Krugh said that most of the group’s community service work is Johnstown-centric, rather than Pitt-Johnstown-centric.

Two weeks ago, the brothers collected $340 in spare change from campus residents for a cancer research foundation. Their “Pie a Delta Chi” events fund the same charity, and Krugh said they usually make $50 to $100.

In September, the brothers acted as waiters at a bar and grill, giving out wristbands to patrons over 21 years old and cleaning off tables.

Krugh said the fraternity volunteered at slapshot games last semester at the ice rinks in Johnstown and Ebensburg.

“Almost the entirety of the brothers went and were helping the (hockey) tournament along,” he said.

“It’s mostly older men making teams to enjoy the sport they once loved—it was great to help them have that much fun.”

Krugh said that, when the weather is nicer, the brothers also clean up a stretch of highway near the Galleria mall, which they adopted last semester.

He said fraternity members are hosting a recruitment night tonight which potential pledges can attend to meet and get comfortable with the brothers. 

Thirteen brothers are to be graduated this semester, which is almost half the membership. Krugh himself  pledged to the fraternity only last semester.

“We love giving back to the community. It’s a brotherhood—the brothers are all really cool, really respectful. They cherish the people who come in and care about our grades and what’s going on in our lives.”

Hall, who advises Greek Life, said that service is one of the four pillars of Greek Life, along with brotherhood, leadership and scholarship.