Students in Effective Speech class organize fundraiser to benefit local charity

Students sitting on a stage with one looking at a phone and pointing to a crowd off camera

Students in the Effective Speech class at Penn State Shenango moderate a Sports Jeopardy event in the Auditorium.

Credit: Penn State

SHARON, Pa. — The best way to learn how to communicate in a group setting is to work together towards a common goal — that’s the philosophy of the CAS 100B: Effective Speech class at Penn State Shenango. 

Each year, the different sections of the class choose a local non-profit to support, and the students in that section work together to plan and execute a fundraising event. As the students work through the process from pitching an idea, to planning, to marketing, they are learning how to communicate effectively as a group in order to have a successful fundraising campaign. 

In one section of this semester’s CAS 100B class, the non-profit selected as the beneficiary of their efforts hits close to home for one Shenango student, Taylor Geiwitz, a criminal justice major at Penn State Shenango, and the cousin of Noah Geiwitz.

"Noah went to Reynolds High School and was on the baseball team," Geiwitz said. "He was being bullied, and in 2022 Noah committed suicide."

The Noah Geiwitz Legacy Foundation was established to raise awareness about bullying and to contribute to the sport that Noah loved. 

“For Noah’s senior trip, he wanted to go to the Dominican Republic and give baseball equipment, bats and gloves, to kids there who may not be as lucky as we are here,” Geiwitz said. “It has turned into a much bigger thing. There’s now a foundation focused on mental health awareness and being a good teammate, and we donate to the Dominican Republic every year.”

The other Effective Speech class members voted to focus their efforts towards supporting the Noah Geiwitz Legacy Foundation. Once that decision was made, the students had to work together to plan and host a fundraising campaign. 

“We decided that an event on campus would be best in order to have the most attendance,” said Ozzie Shaffer, a dual enrollment student in the Effective Speech class. “We threw out a lot of options for what we could do, but somehow, we landed on 'Sports Jeopardy.'” 

The "Sports Jeopardy" event paired teams of students, faculty and staff together in the Penn State Shenango Auditorium on April 22 for a friendly, if sometimes heated, competition to raise money and to collect baseball equipment from participants and audience members. All told, the event raised $116 and several baseball bats. 

When asked if the "Sports Jeopardy" event was viewed as a success, both Geiwitz and Shaffer agreed that it far exceeded their class’s expectations. 

“To be able to convey all of the things that Noah wanted to do and to keep his memory alive is really big to me,” Geiwitz said. “To do all of this in his name is amazing.” 

“This is a communication class, and we learned that communication is hard,” said Shaffer. “But Shenango is such a welcoming place, and I don’t think I would get opportunities like this anywhere else.”