A huddle of about 1,000 students met at the Bell Tower Saturday morning to receive
an earful from retired men’s basketball coach John Chaney.
He commended everybody for being a part of a new Temple record – and no, it wasn’t a game of 500-on-500 basketball.
“The record for the largest mass volunteer effort at Temple was definitely broken,” said Juan Galeano, vice president of Temple Student Government and event coordinator of 1K Help for a Day, a service project that sought 1,000 volunteers and brought student organizations, community members and walk-on students, including high school students and alumni, together to give back to the community.
The total number of volunteers is still participants are accounted for raising their hands and lending them to North Philadelphia.
In 55-degree weather, volunteers stayed warm by being active and actively listening.
“There was a lot of music,” said Kirsten Spearman, senior dance and kinesiology major.
In past years Spearman had participated at Philadelphia Cares Day, a city-wide community project that “coincidental[ly]” coincided with 1K Help for a Day Saturday, according to Raysean Hogan, TSG president, director of the Homecoming Committee. Spearman said the music helped her and others clean between 16th and 17th streets and Montgomery Avenue.
“The morale stayed high throughout the whole day, which is very encouraging because the past two years it’s been kind of scattered … this was very organized and their hearts were in it and you could tell,” said Spearman, who as a resident assistant at Temple Towers, encouraged floor residents to help.
“Chaney got to speak and pumped us up before.”
Chaney addressed the crowd and reminded
them of their collective responsibility to reach out to the community. The Homecoming
Committee only had to reach out to Chaney to have him on the billing.
“I was pretty confident he was going to come and when he came it solidified the fact that he’s a man of his word,” Logan said. “When he says he gives back to the community, when he says that he cares, he proved it by being here, even though he didn’t need to prove it anymore to us.”
After eating breakfast provided at the Bell Tower, the volunteers broke fast into sections and were designated to certain sites.
Andy Katowitz, a junior international business and marketing major, needed plenty of energy to pick up debris and scuff graffiti on 15th and Norris streets from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“It was solid work the entire time,” he said. “We weren’t taking breaks; we weren’t coming back to campus. We were out there for a solid three-and-a-half hours.”
The highlight of the event came in the form of appreciation by a curious, thankful block captain.
“And he came outside and was just like, ‘Oh, what are you guys doing? Looks like you’re cleaning.’ And we were like ‘Yeah, we’re cleaning. Helping out,'” Katowitz said.
Noticing a small turnout of Temple students
for Philadelphia Cares Day but an underlying “heart for community service and a heart for civic engagement” last year, Galeano organized the benefit knowing students would come out in throngs.
“Students get energized by seeing more students who have a similar passion,” Galeano said.
The event aroused Katie Krempl’s passion
for community service.
The freshman pulled weeds, cut down dead tree branches and picked up garbage with other students at the Newman Center, located at 2129 N. Broad St.
“[It was] the hardest work I have ever done,” said Krempl, a business major. “But it was worth it.”
After the volunteer services ended, each group made its way back to the Bell Tower and was served a pizza lunch before the closing ceremony.
Volunteers helped paint walls and basketball courts, clean various elementary schools, parks, recreation centers, kid entertainment centers and religious centers, set up a senior citizen prom and meals and participated in youth charities, financial literacy programs, civil rights groups and after-school organizations.
“We cleaned up 10 different schools and we cleaned up a 20 block radius all around campus, so we were really around the community grooming, shoveling and picking up,” said Brendan Bailes, the event’s overall logistical consultant and the advertising and marketing chairperson of Homecoming.
Although Bailes said the Homecoming Committee “was aiming high and realistically” with the target of 1,000 volunteers, Logan said the goal of the event went beyond setting records.
“The goal is to show 1,000 kids you can step out in the community and go out and make a change anytime you want to,” Logan
said. “It doesn’t have to be publicized; it doesn’t have to be a big event. But it’s really easy to go pickup a trash bag and broom and go out there and make a difference.”
Jonea M. Price can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Wood contributed to this report.