Automotive Students Thanked First Responders With Free Oil Changes

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Lenape Technical School's (located in Ford City, Pennsylvania) automotive students thanked emergency crews with free oil changes on their personal vehicles.

“The kids really took well to this project and were really proud to work on four emergency responders' vehicles,” said Automotive Technology teacher Jeffrey Linko. “They definitely stepped up to the task. It's something I'd like to see happen every year.”

The free oil changes were part of the class's first AmeriCorps service-learning project — a way for students to make a difference in the community while practicing what they've learned in school.

“We thought this would be a perfect opportunity for them to share their knowledge while doing some good for our emergency responders,” AmeriCorps volunteer Tracy Lassiter said. “The students really took the lead and researched the vehicles they knew were coming, and then developed their own system to make sure everything got done right.”

Lenape started working with the Keystone SMILES AmeriCorps Program in Clarion County in February to offer more service-learning projects to let students use their skills to help others.

Aside from allowing them to practice oil changes and basic automotive maintenance, Lassiter said the project was also a way to boost the student confidence levels.

“When they're in this shop, they're seen as the experts where they can share their knowledge,” Lassiter said. “And I think for the kids, it feels good to give back.”

Freeport High School junior Darius Obringer said he was excited and proud to dedicate his class time to helping first responders. The work had a little extra meaning for Obringer, who volunteers as a junior firefighter in Buffalo Township.

“It's good to help the community out. I'd like to see us keep doing it,” Obringer said. “It's good to know that they won't have to worry about their oil for a while, or breaking down on the way to an emergency.”

Although he knows how to maintain his own vehicle, Manor policeman Joshua Stanga said the free oil change was a nice gesture from the students and the school. He hoped the students learned just as much about local emergency officials as they did about cars.

“It's a great opportunity to learn about cars and trucks, but also a great chance for them to get to know their towns' policemen and firefighters,” Stanga said. “It's nice to get to interact with them without a uniform and let them know that we're real people, too.”

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