Community Challenge raises $12,000 to support Salvation Army

PHOTO PROVIDED At the 5K run/walk held at Williamsport Area High School on Nov. 12, some of the students enrolled in Penn College’s Community and Organizational Change course gather with Major Donald Spencer (center), director of the Salvation Army of Williamsport.

This year’s Community Challenge supporting the Salvation Army of Williamsport raised $12,000, thanks to the efforts of numerous volunteers and participants including many from Pennsylvania College of Technology.

On Nov. 12, the final event in the Community Challenge series, a 5K run/walk was held at Williamsport Area High School. Penn College had over 30 volunteers at the event including students enrolled in the college’s Community and Organizational Change course who devoted part of their fall semester to the nonprofit endeavor.

The Community Cup, a traveling trophy presented to the organization that has the greatest participation at the event, was captured by Williamsport Area School District. WASD beat Penn College, winner of last year’s Community Cup, by one registered participant.

A total of 244 participants engaged in this year’s Community Challenge events, with 84 individuals registered for the 5K run/walk and 160 participants in a 10K & 20K trail run on Oct. 1.

The most important number, however, is the approximately 400 area families helped each month by the Salvation Army of Williamsport. The money raised by the Community Challenge supports the organization’s tutoring, mentoring, food distribution, and financial planning and budgeting courses.

“The best thing about this project was being involved in something that will have a significant impact on our local community,” said Travis R. Neyhart, a human services student from Jersey Shore who led the logistics for the Community and Organizational Change class.

“The money raised with these races will go toward essential needs in the community like food distribution and tutoring here in Williamsport,” Neyhart said. “Having this hands-on opportunity allows us to apply many of the concepts we learn about organizing directly to our community.”

Mandy M. Myers, a human services student from Duke Center who led the marketing/public relations effort for the class, added: “From doing this project, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that communicating is so important when collaborating with different organizations. Also, it’s very important to understand just why exactly you are doing a project so that way you have more understanding, empathy, and actually want to help. Overall, this project was an amazing experience. Getting to help those in need is exactly what I came to Penn College to do, and that is what I did with this project.”

Michael J. Reed, dean of sciences, humanities and visual communications, who is also instructing the Community and Organizational Change course for the Fall 2016 semester, said: “I am so proud of our students. They effectively navigated through complex challenges and put forth extraordinary effort to overcome multiple barriers throughout the planning process. They never quit and their perseverance helped to produce two incredible community events that yielded tremendous resources for families in need.”

Reed is also the vice chairman of the local Salvation Army Board of Directors.