Abington culture of service in spotlight on MLK Day

Let Penn State Abington students loose for 20 minutes with 50 loaves of bread and peanut butter and jelly. The result? A mountain of PB&J sandwiches, 766 to be exact, to feed the homeless.

Hand a group of Abington volunteers rakes, shovels, brooms and trash cans. The result? Cleaner streets in one of Philadelphia’s most challenged communities.

Students organized these projects specifically for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service last week, but a culture of service thrives at Abington every day.

First-year student Lauren Blair, who was heavily involved in King Day, said the engagement ethic at Abington dovetails with her lifestyle.

"I found my passion by being involved on campus and focusing on my studies."

-- Lauren Blair, Penn State Abington student

"When I arrived at Abington I became involved in Community Outreach Workers, ENACTUS, and A Place To Talk. All the clubs deal with helping others," she said. "I found my passion by being involved on campus and focusing on my studies."

Organizations such as Community Outreach Workers, Abington THON, and Alternative Spring Break offer varying levels of commitment and experiences. But they all provide hands-on service as well as opportunities for reflection and connection with people beyond the Abington community.

There are hybrids such as the Education Club, which combines professional development and service partnerships with three elementary schools in needy areas. Members collected more than 200 winter coats last week to outfit fifth-graders at McClure Elementary in Philadelphia. They also teach mini-lessons in the classroom to gain experience at partner schools.

The service ethic weaves through academics at Abington, too. Courses taught by Karen Halnon, associate professor of sociology, incorporate social justice and related themes. Research trips to Central America with students always include volunteerism.

Service at Abington, primarily nurtured through the Office of Student Life, is intentional. Learn more about the culture of service at Abington at


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Last Updated October 31, 2017