With THON season in full swing, we conducted a series of interviews with each member of the THON 2014 Executive Committee in order to better connect the Penn State community with the leaders of the largest student run philanthropy in the world. This week features Supply Logistics Director Jenna Charles.
Jenna Charles, Supply Logistics Director
Major: Public Relations and Political Science
Fun Fact: I was born on Friday the 13th.
Onward State: Why did you apply to be a part of the Executive Committee for THON 2014?
Jenna Charles: THON has just been the most amazing experience since I was a freshman and I got to meet a lot of the families on the floor, and their stories really change you. As I’ve kind of progressed through my THON journey, I really had a lot of ideas for the Supply Logistics Committee and I wanted to really just donate all my time to this fantastic cause, so that’s why I decided to apply.
OS: Summarize some of the responsibilities of the Supply Logistics committee, and then the role you play as Director within those responsibilities.
JC: Most people don’t really know what Supply Logistics is. Essentially we’re in charge of acquiring all in-kind donations for all events leading up to THON weekend and including THON weekend. So, to give you an example so it kind of becomes more tangible, for the 5K, we get all of the safety pins and runner numbers donated. Those are completely donated free of charge along with the paint and the posterboard for the signs that we make. So those are things that my captains will get donated. And then my role with Supply Logistics is that I have certain donors myself that I help, I help my captains organize supply requests and then go through and prioritize requests and decide who they’re going to be cold calling to try to get those donated. And then I also have two captains who are in charge of inventory, and I guess this kind of goes with one of my goals for this year, which is really organizing inventory and creating a system on THINK so that essentially anytime someone goes into THINK they can see every supply THON has in inventory. So that’s also a major part, that I work with those captains to really organize that and keep it updated.
OS: What are your overall goals for this year? What are you looking to change and improve to make the Supply Logistics Committee the best it can be?
JC: The inventory system is one of my main goals. Also, with Supply Logistics I really want to raise awareness for what we do. I have fourteen captains that essentially all they do is call donors and ask for donations, and it’s a pretty thankless job, so I really want try to make sure the THON community knows the value of the supplies that they’re using, just so they know that when they are painting with those paintbrushes, that when they finish they should rinse them out and dry them off so that someone else can use them because they were donated completely by some awesome donor who decided to help THON. Another major goal that I have is to increase the efficiency of the supply requesting system. Every other committee in THON has supply requests that they’ll put into THINK, and I worked with Pat, the Technology Director, this past summer to improve that system and then I’m also working with all of the directors and their supply liaisons to really make sure that they’re only requesting supplies that they need so my captains can really prioritize. And the goal is that Supply Logistics should be able to get every supply donated, which unfortunately now isn’t the case. But one of my major goals I’m working towards is to prioritize those requests so that no committees have to buy anything.
OS: What moment or moments are you most looking forward to during this upcoming THON year? Be as specific or vague as you’d like.
JC: I would say Family Carnival because it’s one of the first major events where my captains can look around and see the supplies they got donated being played with by the kids, which is such a cool feeling to know because they worked so hard. And then at Family Carnival, you look and see the kid having a foam sword fight with his brother, and they can say “I got that donated from this donor a couple months ago.” Everything at Family Carnival is amazing, but that’s a special moment for my captains to really have them see my work and it’s awesome.
OS: Why do you THON?
JC: There are so many reasons. I guess I would say for the kids, and then to expand on that, when I was younger I had a friend who was diagnosed with a brain tumor and she passed away at 14, and then as soon as I came to Penn State and I heard about THON I knew I absolutely had to get involved. So she was kind of my initial reason for THONing, and then I feel like the more you get involved in THON, the more kids you meet and the more you want to fight for them. There have just been so many families and so many people who have touched my life, and especially knowing that there are these kids with their infinite wisdom that they will give to us and share with us during THON weekend and events throughout the year, they’re really the reason why I do what I do.
OS: Name an event or two that you think will make this year’s line dance?
JC: I was lucky enough to be a Morale Captain last year, so I had a little bit of input last year. But for this coming year, I would say HUB construction and renovations will definitely be in it.
OS: If you could be any dinosaur, which would you be and why?
JC: I would be a velociraptor because ever since I saw Jurassic Park I thought they were so awesome and they’re really smart.