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It had all the signs of years past. Students packed into the main room of a Locust Walk house with Greek letters on its facade and chatted loudly while enjoying refreshments and trying to make a good first impression. But there was one major difference. The event gave students a chance to learn about over 20 community service organizations at the University and provided some groups with their main recruiting drive for new members. PVN Chairperson Lanelle Polen said that the turnout was better than in past years and attributed that to increased publicity and to the location -- a 100-year-old house on the edge of College Green. She said PVN, which is an umbrella organization for student community service groups, had heavily publicized the event to member groups and to the public in hopes of attracting a large group of students. In the past, the open house has been held in Houston Hall or at other locations, Polen said. "We thought the opening of the Castle would provide a focal point," Polen said. Although Polen admitted interest in the Castle was probably responsible for part of the attendance, she said most of the students seemed to be picking up information and asking questions. "I don't see that many people who are just curiosity seekers," she said. Most representatives from community service groups said the presence of the Community Service Living-Learning Program in the Castle will make an important difference in the attention paid to community service on campus. College senior Rich Schragger, who was representing PENNpals, said the location brought visibility to community service groups on campus. He said that the open house provides the group -- which provides youth companionship for local children -- with some recruits, but added that most of the 140 members hear about it through word of mouth. All the students said that publicity for their organization was the main incentive for participating in the open house. College junior Audrey Smolkin, a member of Students Together Against Acquaintance Rape, said her organization chose to participate because it provided an chance to educate more people about the issue. Smolkin also took the opportunity to distribute applications for STAAR peer educator positions. College junior Pam Urueta from Alternate Spring Break passed out colorful flyers about the introductory meeting and spoke to students about having a spring break with "a community service sort of tone."

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