New Kensington clubs continue community service with holiday spirit and goodwill

Veterans Club sponsors toy drive; Lion Ambassadors decorate nursing home

Penn State New Kensington Lion Ambassadors decorate West Haven Manor, a nursing home in Apollo.  Credit: Penn State New Kensington / Penn StateCreative Commons

UPPER BURRELL, Pa. -- Student clubs at Penn State New Kensington made the holidays a bit brighter recently for children and senior citizens in the Pittsburgh region. The Veterans Club and Lion Ambassadors organized events to collect toys, deliver Christmas cards and decorate living quarters.

The veterans group held a weeklong toy drive that benefited patients at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. The club collected seven large bags of new toys, crafts and books, which were delivered to the hospital by club president Mustafa Arslan.

“The toy drive was a tremendous success,” said Arslan, a sophomore information sciences and technology major. “The employees from the hospital were very grateful and surprised to see the amount of toys delivered.”

The Veterans Club is a new addition to the roster of 25 active clubs and organizations at the campus. The group provides a social setting to help veterans adjust and become successful in civilian and college life. Arslan started the 17-member club at the beginning of the fall semester.

“We needed to have an outreach program, or a club in this case, to help all student veterans,” Arslan said. “Some veterans start school without having any knowledge of their benefits or who they can speak to in order to get their Veterans Administration educational benefits the right way.”

The club established a Veterans Services web page, which is located under Student Life on the campus homepage. The link helps new or current student veterans with information on Post 9/11 G.I Bill and Chapters 30-33 benefits. The page also provides contacts and instructions. At the New Kensington campus, Diana Hill, certifying official for veterans educational benefits, is the liaison for vets. Hill can be reached at 724-334-6047 or visit veterans Services, “Our goal is to be as helpful as possible, so that the student experience is not hindered with unnecessary issues to the student veterans,” Arslan said.

A graduate of Fox Chapel High School, Arslan spent 12 years in the Marine Corps working as an English/Turkish linguist. He rose to the rank of staff sergeant and served in Iraq during Operation Northern Watch and Operation Iraq Freedom. After an honorable discharge, he needed a career change, and the New Kensington campus offered him the resources he desired.

“Penn State New Kensington is the best campus for me as far as the commute and the degree programs offered,” said Arslan, who is working on an IST minor in security and risk analysis. “My experience here has been great with all the support I could ask for.”

Lion AmbassadorsThe Lion Ambassadors delivered Christmas cards to residents and decorated the hallways of West Haven Manor, a nursing home in Apollo. The cards, which were donated by faculty and staff of the campus, were personalized by New Kensington students.

“I am very proud of our campus Lion Ambassadors,” said Corinne Coulson, enrollment services specialist and Lion Ambassadors adviser. “They embody servant leadership in what they do here on campus and in the community, and this project was no exception.”

Bringing joy to senior citizens has become part of the service mission of the Lion Ambassadors. In April, the group tripped the light fantastic with residents of Logan House in Lower Burrell at the inaugural Senior Citizens Prom. The festivities provided an entertaining evening for the senior residents of the assisted-living facility, and an opportunity for the students to share time with those who may not have regular visitors.

Lion Ambassadors personify the campus. The club acts on behalf of the campus and is tasked with making a good first impression on visitors. Club members work closely with the Enrollment Management Office to promote the campus to prospective students. They lead campus tours and assist with other recruitment activities. Additionally, Lion Ambassadors represent the campus in the community through volunteer and service activities. Membership in the organization involves an interview and maintenance of a minimum grade-point average.

For more about Lion Ambassadors, contact Corinne Coulson, adviser, 724-334-6018 or

Penn State New Kensington student Mustafa Anslan, right, president of the campus' Veterans Club, with healthcare professionals at the Children's Hospital. Anslan delivered seven bags of toys to the hospital for the young patients at Christmas.  Credit: Penn State New Kensington / Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated December 17, 2015