#GivingTuesday, which is the Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, is the global day of giving that brings together individuals and organizations in the community to focus on the aspect of giving instead of buying. Students of St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill are celebrating this day by hosting the Penguin Olympics; an event that’s main purpose was to raise awareness and donations for Nyack’s Penguin Plunge Inc., a nonprofit organization that supports three Rockland County children with serious medical conditions each year.
Penguin Plunge Inc. was started in 2008 by Barbara Noyes and Mike Lynch in an effort to help local families in Rockland County pay their children’s medical bills. Throughout the year, Penguin Plunge Inc. hosts many events raising money and awareness for these children leading up to the main event, The Penguin Plunge, where brave residents of Rockland County dive into the icy Hudson River. This year, the Penguin Plunge selected Gabriella Carney, 2, from Tappan, NY, living with a rare genetic liver disease; Noah Diaz, 5, from Congers, NY, born with a severe heart condition, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome; and Molly McGovern, 18, from Blauvelt, NY, diagnosed early this year with benign Meningioma.
Professor Winship’s Public Relations class at St. Thomas Aquinas College (STAC) teamed up with the Penguin Plunge Inc. to help Barbara and Mike raise awareness. To do so, they created an event called the Penguin Olympics which took place at STAC from 1:30-4:30 on #GivingTuesday. There were many different activities such as face painting, a photo booth, an ice bucket challenge and more. There was also free donuts and hot chocolate in honor of the giving season. The students raised money through a 50/50 raffle and bake sales throughout the semester. Molly McGovern, who was selected as one of the recipients, was at the event.
“This event is really helpful for me and my family. They’ve been through a lot and it’s good that my family and all these other families are being taken care of.” Molly is currently a freshman at Rockland Community College studying early childhood education. She plans on transferring to STAC after two years because of its education program.
After the Olympics were over, the party shifted to Lexington Grille and Pub in Bardonia. There were free appetizers, drink specials, a photo booth and another 50/50 raffle that raised money for the children’s families. Many were in attendance including one of the founders of Penguin Plunge Inc., Barbara Noyes.
“I feel so warm,” she says. “Seeing all the support, hard work and skill everyone who came out has is very heartwarming…I’m just thankful I can help the kids in any small way I can and I’m happy I can do so in a fun way.”
These events are not only benefitting the three children’s families’, they are benefitting the STAC students as well; giving them a chance to work and create content for a real organization. All semester they have been learning about how a public relations team operates and now they had the opportunity to put their knowledge to the test. Not only did they set up this whole event, they now run the Penguin Plunge Inc. social media pages.
“Working with a non-profit organization is a really good experience,” says junior Kristin Moran. “It allows me to test the waters and see what it’s like to work with a real organization. I’m proud of what we’ve done.”
“It’s different from us helping any regular company,” says senior Emily Kopac. “It’s nice helping a local organization helping local kids.”
The actual Penguin Plunge will take place on Sunday, March 5th, 2017 at Nyack Memorial Park from 12:00-2:00 p.m.