The seventh annual Philadelphia Cares Day this past weekend attracted thousands of volunteers, including Temple students, who devoted the day to repairing and beautifying Philadelphia’s public schools.
Honorary co-chairmen of Philadelphia Cares Day, Philadelphia Mayor John Street and 76ers President Pat Croce, attended. Both men spent time signing autographs for children, posing for pictures, and rallying the troops with remarks about what Philadelphia Cares is supposed to be about.
After leading the volunteers in stretching exercises, Croce expressed his feelings on what the event meant to him.
“I love it,” Croce said, “Any time you can assemble this many people of all ages and stations of life for a common cause, its great!”
Among participants from Temple were the Temple Community School of Psychology, The University Community Service Group, and the Temple Community of Honors.
Also participating was the Temple Community for Intergenerational Learning. The group was assigned to Beaver Middle School, where members helped paint a few classrooms on the third floor of the school.
“We’re thrilled to be a part of this,” said Michelle Chapman, a director of the Intergenerational Learning Program and Temple’s Project Youth Group. “We have a number of volunteers here today including parents of Beaver Middle School students.”
Tempest Burgess, an eighth-grade student from Beaver Middle School, explained why she braved the early morning start to participate: “It sounded very exciting and I just felt like helping out and painting.”
The activities began at the Mann Center for Performing Arts, where volunteers were rewarded for their work with breakfast supplied by McDonald’s, Starbucks and others. Everyone was eligible in a raffle for two round-trip tickets anywhere in the United States and other door prizes, such as Eagles cheerleader calendars and drinking mugs.
Volunteers also received an early morning performance by the Philadelphia 76ers House Band.
A few other local businesses First Union, Home Depot, Comcast, and Andersen Consulting were just a few of the local businesses that had volunteer groups to assist in the city clean up. SEPTA played a major part by donating the use of over 40 buses to help transport volunteers to each school.
Philadelphia Cares Day helps with work projects in more than 100 of the city’s public schools. The program involves painting classrooms, gymnasiums, bathrooms, hallways, murals and cafeterias; clearing trash from school yards; repairing playground equipment; and organizing libraries.
“Philadelphia Cares Day volunteers will contribute hours of community service and make a visible difference for thousands of city school children,” said Philadelphia Cares Executive Director Lissa Hilsee.
Philadelphia Cares Day is just one day, but the Philadelphia Cares volunteer group is active all year round.
Founded in 1994, Philadelphia Cares mobilizes hundreds of people in voluntary community service and endeavors to develop involved, informed, philanthropic community leaders. Volunteers help tutor children, feed the hungry, build affordable housing and landscape parks.
Philadelphia Cares manages other annual days of volunteer service, including the Martin Luther King Day of Service, and Philadelphia Cares About Fairmount Park Day.