August 21, 2019—Incoming first-year honors students joined Angela Putman, Assistant Professor of Communications, on a field trip to CityTeam, a nonprofit poverty relief organization located in Chester, in order to assist the program’s leaders and volunteers with food and clothing distribution. Their valuable work, intended as a component to Putman’s Honors Communication and Speech class this fall semester, consisted of unloading and sorting a fully stocked fresh produce truck, cleaning the facility, and organizing clothing donations for the adults and children CityTeam assists each week.
“This trip was a great opportunity for our honors students to both learn more about what they will be studying in the classroom this semester, and give back to the community,” said Hans Schmidt, Associate Professor of Communications and Coordinator of the campus honors program.
The day began with an informative presentation by a CityTeam staff member followed by a question and answer session where students engaged with the history, operation, and services of the organization, which include family and food assistance, mother and baby care, a medical clinic, career and learning center, as well as a men’s shelter.
The honors students then divided into four groups, specializing in adult clothing donations, child clothing and toys, cleaning and janitorial work, and food distribution. While these groups worked independently from each other for most of the day, everyone reconvened to help unload a truck packed with fresh produce donated from local grocery stores, bakeries, and farms. The team shared the weight of the labor to lessen the wait time of the people coming to CityTeam for food and assistance before breaking off once again to work alongside other volunteers in operating the clothing and food stores.
“Given our theme in CAS 100 of poverty, the partnership with CityTeam and the field trip that we took to their facility were both a fantastic choice. The students got to learn quite a bit about the living conditions for many residents in Chester; specifically, they learned that Chester is a food desert—there are no grocery stores in the entire city of Chester with access to fresh produce. Beyond learning, they were then able to work side-by-side with the local volunteers to ensure that the CityTeam clients could shop for their food, clothing, and baby supplies. I hope that the students benefitted from this experience as much as I did,” said Angela Putman.
Penn State looks forward to working with CityTeam again in the future.