PennWest Clarion – Venango’s Alpha Kappa Delta chapter of Phi Theta Kappa seeks volunteers to help sort items and fill totes for its Totes for Tots program.

Totes for Tots, created in 2008, is an annual grant-funded service project that provides 30 education-related items in a tote for Venango County prekindergarten Head Start students. Each tote contains items that focus on reading, writing, mathematics, art, science, history and fitness. The project serves between 200 and 275 students each year. This spring, 263 students will receive totes.

The Totes for Tots program is possible due to various grants aimed specifically at funding the project.

“Due to this funding, the Alpha Kappa Delta chapter of Phi Theta Kappa has had the opportunity to serve all of the prekindergarten Venango County Head Start programs,” said Dr. Beth Miller, Phi Theta Kappa advisor and assistant professor of mathematics. “As long as the funding remains and the students are able, Totes for Tots will continue to positively impact the local Head Start students and the community, while emphasizing the importance of education.”

Five of the funding grants were from the Samuel Justus Charitable Trust. The Laura Smedley Trust Fund and PNC Institutional Investment provided the funding for eight of the grants. The awards granted for the Totes for Tots Project totaled $91,900.

“In addition to grants, we have had several Phi Theta Kappa members, their families, other faculty/staff, and myself donate items for the totes,” Miller said.

If the project continues to be funded, the chapter plans to expand to Clarion County next year.

“Now that the requirements to join Phi Theta Kappa have expanded to include certificate and bachelor’s degree programs, (Phi Theta Kappa) headquarters has permitted the Clarion campus to be involved, as well,” Miller said. The Alpha Kappa Delta chapter was approved for Venango campus in 1984.

Totes for Tots is a result of Phi Theta Kappa’s Honors in Action research project, which investigates impacting young minds through education and community connection.

“Behind the scenes, this project has brought together children of all ages, from toddlers to college students, as well as local nursing home residents who assist in decorating and preparing the totes for distribution,” Miller said.

Other Venango County programs, such as Youth Alternatives and local scout troops, have assisted by stuffing and delivering the totes.

Volunteers are needed to sort items at 4 p.m. Feb. 27 in 307 Montgomery Hall, and to fill and prepare totes for delivery at 1 p.m. March 1. For more information or to sign up to help, email Miller at

Phi Theta Kappa is an international honor society for college students. It consists of more than 3.5 million members from 1,400 chapters worldwide. The PennWest Clarion – Venango chapter has 45 members. Phi Theta Kappa’s goals are recognizing and encouraging scholarship, providing opportunities for the development of leadership and service, and stimulating interest in continuing academic excellence.