Kent State Greek Life Participates in WKYC’s #ShovelChallenge

Kent State Students Dig Out Snow-Covered Hydrants

Kent State University members of Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity and Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity, spent their afternoon on Feb. 27 digging out snow-covered fire hydrants in Kent neighborhoods.

WKYC Channel 3 Producer Jon Adkins approached the Kent Fire Department and Kent State’s Greek Life to participate in this community service project, which was dubbed the #ShovelChallenge. Adkins is hoping students at other universities will take similar initiatives in their communities.


Heavy snowfall and subsequent plowing in the city of Kent this winter buried many fire hydrants under snow, hiding them from the street. This makes it difficult for firefighters to do their job if a crisis arises.

Lt. Jamie Samels with the Kent Fire Department said many house fires occur in the winter because people are trying to use alternate methods to heat their homes. This often results in an increased risk of fires because these devices are left unattended or used improperly.   

While homeowners are in charge of clearing the snow from fire hydrants in their yards, many remain hidden, said Kent Fire Chief John Tosko.

“It’s such a labor-intensive endeavor to get this snow removed,” Tosko said. “We depend on water to put out fires. If we can’t get to the hydrant, which is the water supply, then we’re scrambling to figure out alternative methods.”


Eleven students and one staff member participated in the #ShovelChallenge. They were divided into groups of three, and firefighters drove them from neighborhood to neighborhood.

“It feels good to be able to help out the local community,” said David Halula, junior managerial marketing major and member of Phi Kappa Tau. “We get a lot of support from them when our fraternity holds events, so it’s nice to do something easy that helps a lot.”

Not even the chilly temperatures could stop the students from giving back to the community.

“We do a lot of different service projects,” said Victoria Sack, senior justice studies major and member of Alpha Phi Omega. “I don’t mind the cold or the outdoors, so it sounded fun to me.”

With hundreds of fire hydrants in the city of Kent, it was impossible for the students to dig all of them out, but their efforts did not go unnoticed.

“We would normally send a person out in between emergencies to try to dig a hydrant out, but that would be one person at a time,” Samels said. “You can see with this vast group of people how we’re able to spread across the city and make a bigger impact.”

Watch WKYC Channel 3’s story about the #ShovelChallenge in Kent.

POSTED: Monday, March 9, 2015 10:15 AM
Updated: Thursday, December 8, 2022 11:14 AM
Katie Smith