College of Education > News and Publications > News: Jan. - March 2011 > Student Interns Make Blankets to Warm Latin American Orphans

Student Interns Make Blankets to Warm Latin American Orphans

Penn State PDS interns participate in a mini blanket making marathon to help the boys at ProNino orphanages in Honduras.

by Nancy Stiger (March 2011)

The boys at a ProNino orphanage in Honduras have been acting strange lately--they are making their beds.

a boy makes his bed, spreads out his blanketThis behavior change can be attributed to the 141 blankets donated to the ProNino orphanages by interns in the Penn State College of Education’s Professional Development School (PDS). As a part of the interns’ “Teachers Warming Our Future” project, all of the 75 children at ProNino orphanages received their own blankets to keep them warm this winter--blankets that they have already come to treasure.

The PDS is a collaborative program between the State College Area School District and the Penn State College of Education that pairs Penn State teacher preparation students with State College teachers in a year-long student teaching internship.

ProNino USA is a nonprofit organization that partners with other organizations and citizens of the U.S. to offer the former street children the food, shelter, and education that they need.

The organization provides relief and support to children--often starving and addicted to drugs--who may be turned away from other orphanages.

There is no evidence of their past hardships, though, on the YouTube video filmed shortly after they received the blankets. The children are all smiles as they express their gratitude for the blankets.

three boys wrapped in their blankets sit on stairsFifty-nine interns contributed to the 70 fleece knot blankets made on Jan. 8 at Mount Nittany Middle School. Additional support from the community and donations of gently used blankets raised the grand total to 114 blankets--far exceeding the interns’ goal of 75.

Candy Stahl, one of the Professional Development Associates who assisted with the project, said that this is the first year PDS teamed up with ProNino. Last year’s efforts went to collecting books to ship to Africa.

Stahl is employed through the State College Area School District and the Professional Development School and is able to step away from elementary teaching responsibilities for a few years to take on this new role of supervising interns in the PDS, while teaching some classes at Penn State.

Stahl says the involvement of her friend, Laura Long, with ProNino is what motivated her to discuss the idea of working with ProNino with the interns for this year’s project. Long not only worked with the organization for years, she also flew to Honduras with the blankets to assist in the distribution to the orphanages. Although it was Long’s involvement that jumpstarted the idea of working with ProNino, a committee of PDS interns ran with it.

smiling boy holding a blanketIntern Danielle Zarnick from Butler, Pa., said she was grateful to have been part of a group who brought warmth to orphans in Honduras by simply putting in a few hours of my time. “Seeing the video of the boys who were wrapped in blankets that were made by my fellow interns, professors, and myself will be a memory that I will cherish for a lifetime.”

Fellow PDS intern, Holly Evans from Doyleston, Pa., said she enjoys working on projects like this because they really pull communities together.

“No matter what the makeup of the group, big or small, there will always be a cause or concern you can impact.”

She also says when choosing a project or organization to help, it’s important to find a cause close to the heart. As a teacher, she says she will continue to work to improve the lives of children.

For more information on ProNino, visit