DuBOIS, Pa. — Members of the Penn State DuBois Occupational Therapy (OT) Club closed out their semester with a project aimed at supporting local first responders. They assembled self-care items into gift baskets that were delivered to DuSan Ambulance Station 43 and Brady Township Fire, Rescue and Ambulance Station 30.
Following COVID-19 safety guidelines, students collected items on campus such as mini hand-sanitizers, pocket packs of tissues, disposable gloves, nonperishable snacks and Sheetz gift cards. They also personally donated items to the cause.
“The students wanted to show their appreciation to first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic and all of the hard work they do,” said LuAnn Demi, director of the Penn State DuBois Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program. She explained that club officer Shane Ponzi serves as a first responder and wanted to give back.
“Shane just completed his sophomore year as an OTA student and is a volunteer firefighter and EMS personnel studying to be an emergency medical technician,” Demi said.
According to Ponzi, “When the club was discussing possible community service projects, I automatically thought about the first responders. Not only because I’m a volunteer and take service very seriously, but because I’ve always thought of first responders as unseen hero’s and very special people because when everyone else is running away from danger, they are giving up everything in that moment of their lives to run into the danger. We want to let them know their service is highly valued.”
“Advising the OT Club is rewarding because I truly just stand back and witness students making mature, thoughtful decisions about how to work together and make a difference,” Demi added. “The planning, teamwork and value of others that students show in their OT Club experiences directly relate to educational concepts that are learned and practiced in the OTA program.”
All members of the OT Club are enrolled in the Penn State DuBois OTA degree program. Graduates of the program will continue to serve their community members by offering educational programs and therapy that will help people to stay safe in their home and to recover from injuries. Career opportunities for graduates include working in public and private schools; early intervention programs; general, psychiatric and pediatric hospitals; day treatment centers; hospices and home health agencies; rehabilitation hospitals and centers; and more.