Student-run charity event draws locals to Happy Valley Winery

Instead of just taking a theory-based class with tests and papers, Stefanie De Bruijn and four of her classmates got out in the real world.

As part of an assignment for the Penn State School of Hospitality Management Advanced Meeting and Event Planning course, three groups of students organized and ran charity events in State College.

De Bruijn and her group were pleased to see a strong attendance of about 30 to 40 people at a wine tasting fundraiser Sunday at Happy Valley Winery. All money raised benefited Susan G. Komen Pittsburgh Affiliate.

She said the work leading up to the event was hard but rewarding,.

“It’s not like you just turn in a paper and get a grade,” she said. “You feel like you really accomplished something.”

The project was challenging at times because the students were thrown out into the real world to try to organize the event and get people to come. De Bruijn said the $20 price to get in likely deterred many students from showing up because many don’t have much money.

But the successful finished project was a relief for the students and a proud moment for professor Jackie Golas.

Golas said one of the most nerve-wracking parts can be putting everything together and planning everything perfectly but having low attendance.

“Just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come,” she said, adding that the students did a great job and she was happy watching them succeed.

The class is in its first year at the school, but Golas expects it to become a staple in the years to come. She said students had been asking for that hands-on experience and this is a way for them to put together tangible work.

Mark and Laura Hinish have no connection to the student organizers, but the State College pair went to the winery, saying it was a fun and well-organized event.

They are wine fans and happy to get out of the house and go to community events, Laura Hinish said. Supporting the students and a local business was an added perk.

“I think more events like this would be welcome in the community,” she said “I think it’s a great thing.”

Mark Hinish added that the students deserve an A on the project.

In total, there are three different groups in the class. The other two groups planned a Cupcake Combat event to benefit the IFC/Panhellenic Council Dance Marathon and a “Jeopardy!”-style competition that took place with the College of Health and Human Development to benefit the United Way.

The students will next give presentations on their projects with conclusions and analysis to get their final grade.