Penguin Ice Breakers, a student organization at Youngstown State University, recently sold candy and raffle tickets in Kilcawley Center to raise money for patients of Akron Children’s Hospital at the Beeghly Campus in Boardman.
Ahmed Sutton, the group’s president, said members were originally planning to volunteer at the hospital. However, when they found out that the ill children needed toys, they decided to switch gears and raise funds instead.
The idea to do so came from Sammi Burton, the organization’s vice president.
“We were talking about doing something in the community,” she said. “I love kids. Children are the future, and if we reach out, they could look up to us and be inspired.”
The group will accept monetary donations, along with donations of toys and infant clothing, through February.
“Our goal is to project a positive image of YSU both on and off campus,” Sutton said.
The group has a target amount of $200, which Sutton said members “plan to supersede.”
Everyone who donates will have the chance to win $25 in a raffle, as well as the opportunity to fill out a heart with their name and a message for a child in the hospital.
“We got the idea from places that put your name on a heart or shamrock if you donate,” Burton said. “Since we’re doing this around Valentine’s Day, we thought it would be nice for the kids to get a little valentine.”
Sutton said one of the best qualities of the student group is the variety of students who want to make a difference.
“We’re a very diverse group. We’re filled with different majors and different class ranks. But we all just want to get out there and help,” Sutton said.
Along with Akron Children’s Hospital, the Penguin Ice Breakers have raised money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer, volunteered at the local Boys and Girls Club and hosted blood drives.
Sutton said it’s humbling to be able to help.
“We’re doing this for the kids. Sometimes families have to send these kids to the hospital for long periods of time, or even just overnight. We want to make their stay as comfortable as possible,” Sutton said.
Burton had previously volunteered by watching kids at the Beatitude House in Boardman. She also grew up with two older sisters and always looked up to them.
“I hope these kids grow up and are inspired to go to college and reach out,” Burton said.
She said she hopes other groups will reach out as well.
“We’re trying to get YSU’s name out there in volunteering, and hopefully, we’ll inspire other groups to volunteer as well,” Burton said.