KU Opens Spring Semester with Day of Service

KU student working with two children during MLK day of service activities.

Marissa Giancola, a KU freshman from Cape May, NJ, spends time with elementary-level students at Opportunity House childcare during the MLK Day of Service.

First of many 2020 efforts to honor KU’s commitment to service and diversity

READING, PA --- Kutztown University freshman Marissa Giancola ventured out in sub-freezing temperatures Monday morning to prepare for a full day with her college teammates. 

Rather than preparing for their upcoming spring season, Giancola and her fellow student-athletes on the Golden Bear women’s lacrosse team, were spending the final day of their winter break giving back to the community. 

The players and head coach Jackie Stezzi were a part of more than 50 Kutztown University students and five staff members who participated in the Martin Luther King Day of Service on January 20.

The women’s lacrosse team spent the morning at Opportunity House, an emergency shelter in downtown Reading.   The facility also offers a 24/7 childcare and learning center, and support services for children and veterans.

“Growing up, I never saw people going through difficult times,” said Giancola, a business marketing/criminal justice major who hails from Cape May, NJ.  “When we walked in this morning to spend time with the kids, they jumped up and screamed with excitement.   You could tell immediately you were making a difference.” 

“This means a lot to us, because we want everyone to see what we are doing,” said Tatiana Cardona, assistant director of childcare at Opportunity House.  “Our volunteers can’t believe everything we do and how many people we impact.”

KU students contributed a combined 600 hours of service over 12 hours at four locations in Reading.  The women’s lacrosse team finished up in the afternoon at Helping Harvest, a fresh food bank that supplies food to 300 charitable organizations.

“I have liked to give back since working with the Special Olympics in high school,” said Jenna Blesson, a KU freshman from Sparta, NJ, who spent the Day of Service with her women’s lacrosse teammates.  “It is heartwarming, and makes you want to push yourself harder as a student-athlete.”

KU’s Day of Service was coordinated by its Community Outreach Center. The center offers volunteer opportunities to KU students for one-time, weekly and monthly volunteers. 

This year marked the 25th anniversary of the MLK Day of Service that celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy. Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. The Corporation for National and Community service has been charged to lead this effort for the last quarter-century.

The MLK Day of Service is one of many activities Kutztown University recognizes annually as a part of its commitment to give back to the community and to celebrate diversity.

A sampling of KU’s service and diversity events for 2020:

Visiting Artist Rodrigo Valenzuela
Monday, February 3, 6 p.m., Sharadin 120

An artist talk by Rodrigo Valenzuela to coincide with his current exhibition at the Marlin and Regina Miller Art Gallery in the Sharadin Art Building, Rodrigo Valenzuela: Jornada. Rodrigo Valenzuela is a Chilean-born award-winning contemporary visual artist with exhibitions worldwide.

Design RX
Saturday, February 22

A collaborative visual arts workshop.  This event provides information sessions for Fine Art students to learn about self-promotion and branding. In addition, CD students are teamed with Fine Art students to develop personalized branding materials and messages. 

Commission on Human Diversity 10th Annual Diversity Conference
Friday, February 28


Alternative Spring Break
Sunday, March 8

A series of organized spring break trips where college students engage in volunteer service at their chosen destination.

Full Spectrum
April 6-17, 2020, Bear’s Den Gallery, MSU

An exhibition highlighting the diversity of experiences, stories, and transformations students have while navigating gender identities and sexualities.  A range of two- and three-dimensional artwork will celebrate the various perspectives of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, straight allies, and self-defined artists in our community.

Body Adornment Runway Show
Friday, April 10, 7-8:30 p.m. MSU 218

Visiting Artist Chandra DeBuse
Wed.-Thu., April 15-16

Chandra DeBuse makes functional pottery that incorporates narrative imagery, entertaining characters, colorful patterns, and playful forms.  Her illustrations employ exaggeration, humor, and metaphor to facilitate the viewer’s ability to capture the narrative and apply it to their own life. 

Kutztown University-District Partnership Joint Conference on English Learner Education
Saturday, May 2

This first-ever conference will be hosted by the College of Education.

Hillel Sukkah
TBA October, Open Classroom  

A sukkah is one of the main signs of the festival Sukkot, sometimes rendered as the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles), where Jews remember the 40 years spent wandering in the desert after the exodus from slavery in Egypt. Traditionally includes meals, social gatherings, and nights.

Additional diversity and service activities at KU can be found at the following links:

Two KU students assisting children with activities during MLK day of service activities.

“I like to give back,” said Jenna Blesson (center) a KU freshman from Sparta, NJ. “It makes you want to push yourself harder as a student-athlete.”