PA Cyber students, staff give back to charities through volunteer work
Feb 21, 2017
Kayleah Beedon has always gone out of her way to give back. In late August, the PA Cyber junior began an internship with Genre's Kids with Cancer Fund, an Irwin, Pa.-based nonprofit committed to assisting families battling childhood cancers.
Kayleah spends her time visiting young cancer patients, gathering donor lists, and filling Go Bags — backpacks containing personal hygiene supplies that are donated to families of children unexpectedly hospitalized with cancer at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.
She recently requested a donation of backpacks from PA Cyber to assist the nonprofit.
"I'd like to think of myself as a thoughtful and giving person. I don't want to be prideful, but I try my best to help out with people in my local community," said Kayleah of Greensburg, who also visits women in a local nursing home and paints their nails.
From benevolent students and families to giving teachers and staff, PA Cyber's commitment to charity and volunteerism manifests in big and small ways in communities across the commonwealth.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a dozen staff from the Harrisburg regional office volunteered for Central PA MLK Day of Service by joining Harrisburg-based nonprofit Project Night Night to make care packages. Project Night Night helps homeless children with free tote bags filled with books, stuffed animals and security blankets.
Regional Office Manager Kathy Murtorff said she received an email the Friday before the event that one of the donation centers for Project Night Night had been robbed. The coordinator asked for volunteer help in gathering supplies.
"It was awesome watching bag after bag of donations come to the table," Murtorff said. "With those donations, we were able to fill more than 250 bags."
Their volunteer effort received local television coverage on ABC27 News.
Murtoff said the first year was successful and families will be invited to participate next year. In addition to Harrisburg, the Wexford office also participated in an MLK Day volunteer activity. The team visited the St. Barnabas Senior Living Community in the area and did activities with the residents.
Regional offices are each expected to get involved in two community volunteer projects per school year.
David Veon, supervisor of regional offices, said the goal is to get staff and families from each region to participate. In October, the South Side office participated in a Pittsburgh 5K Spirit Run benefitting the Emmaus Center, an organization just a few blocks from the regional office that serves people with intellectual disabilities and promoting public awareness of their needs. The Philadelphia office participated in a 5K walk/run earlier in the year that benefited a local children's hospital.
In January, PA Cyber staff took part in the Polar Bear Plunge in Bridgewater, Pa. to support athletes of Special Olympics PA.
"The idea is that we're supporting some worthy causes and we're getting some of our family and staff together," Veon said. "We're not looking for big recognition, but we like them out, engaging, participating and helping our communities."
For Kayleah, 16, volunteering has always come naturally. She became friends with Genre Baker, also 16, in seventh grade when they both attended the same church. So it's only natural she decided to intern for the organization named for Genre, who was just 8 years old when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on Memorial Day 2009.
Her parents, Beth and Kurt Beedon, said they are very proud of her.
"I think it's helped us all appreciate the little things in life. These children are fighting for their lives. To see our daughter want to help out families, we're thankful that she has that heart for others," Beth Beedon said.
Kayleah recalled that PA Cyber had given out physical education backpacks to her and her siblings over the past few years. She wondered if the school would donate some to charity.
Following Kayleah's request, Genre's Kids received a donation of 30 Go Bags from Lincoln Learning Solutions, a nonprofit that provides PA Cyber with curriculum and other services. The donation is enough to provide two months of help to families, according to Daunette Baker, Genre's mother and president of Genre's Kids.
"We are so thankful for the donation," Daunette Baker said.
Kayleah, who is a member of the PA Cyber National Honor Society Chapter, also contacted the advisers to discuss filling Go Bags with essential items for this year's honor society project. NHS requires its members to engage in community service.
Through her internship, Kayleah said she's learned how nonprofit organizations work and help families.
"I just think it's really awesome that we're going to be able to help these families and kids with cancer. I'm very thankful," she said.
Beth Beedon said she thinks Kayleah has been a good example to her two younger sisters, Sarah, a ninth-grader, and Anna, a sixth-grader, at PA Cyber.
Attending PA Cyber allows Kayleah to complete her school work earlier in the day, leaving enough time for volunteering. She has also been able to take advantage of the college in high school program.
Kayleah hopes to graduate early next year and begin community college in 2018, before transferring to a four-year college. She plans to study nutrition or obtain a business degree and eventually help out with Genre's Kids.
Casie Colalella / firstname.lastname@example.org
About PA Cyber
Serving students in kindergarten through 12th grade, the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (PA Cyber) is one of the largest, most experienced, and most successful online public schools in the nation. PA Cyber's online learning environments, personalized instructional methods, and choices of curricula connect Pennsylvania students and their families with state-certified and highly-qualified teachers, and rich academic content that is aligned to state standards. Founded in 2000, PA Cyber is headquartered in Midland (Beaver County) and maintains a network of support offices throughout the state. As a public school, PA Cyber is open for enrollment by any school-age child residing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and does not charge tuition to students or families.