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University of Scranton students spend week volunteering in their community

A group of about 40 students moved in a week early to volunteer at nonprofits such as Friends of the Poor and St. Francis of Assisi soup kitchen.

SCRANTON, Pa. — A group of University of Scranton students is spending the last week of their summer giving back to the community they're about to call home for the next 9 months.

They braved the heat and humidity outside of the Friends of the Poor warehouse, sorting and packing items that will go to families in need.

"It really brings the community together, and I was moving in to a new space, I really wanted to find my community at the University of Scranton," said Sarah Boyle, freshman.

"It's important to me because you really get a feel for the culture of Scranton, and it's just really important to help out," said sophomore Johnny Wells.

Most of the volunteers are first-years, which student leader Sarah White says is by design.

"We want them to get to know Scranton as a place. The people here is what makes Scranton home for the University students, for the folks that live here. And we want to be able to give back to them," said White.

The big focus of the volunteer effort today is to help the organization get ready for its back-to-school supply drive.

"Every year, we get some donations for school supplies that we like to get into the hands of students who can use them," said Brady Funkhouser, Friends of the Poor. 

"It's been a really hard year for everyone, so we're glad to be able to give back in a little way," said Sarah White, senior.

First-year Sarah Boyle says she was shocked to see how great the need is in the city. 

"Very surprised. I think every time I go to a new volunteer site, it surprises me more and more that people really do need this much help. But it really seems like there are so many people helping that it gives me some hope as well," said Boyle.

After spending the days volunteering at nonprofits like the Friends of the Poor, the group takes time every night to discuss social justice and spirituality.

The students tell us it's the perfect way to kick off the new school year, and learn more about their community, whether it's their first year or their last.