New Emergency Student Micro Loan Fund Focus of Unique Penn State Alumni-Langhorne Carpet Collaboration; Official Loom Launch 1 p.m. Tuesday, December 20, at Penndel Mill

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Students facing financial hardship are now eligible for microfinance loans funded primarily by Penn State alumni and now through the sales of the "Hand in Hand" tapestry that will be woven starting Tuesday at the historic Langhorne Carpet mill based on an original design by Lanny Sommese, the legendary Penn State head of the department of graphic design.

"Hand In Hand" Tapestry

"The new micro loan helped close the gap and will now see him through to graduation in the spring and on to his career.”

Legendary Langhorne Carpet Company, and famed Penn State designer-instructor Lanny Sommese, are collaborating on the production and sale of a limited edition, all-wool tapestry, appropriately titled “Hand in Hand”, in support of the new and innovative emergency student micro loan program, it was announced today. The first micro loans, given to students facing unexpected economic hardship, were provided through the university’s Office of Student Aid during the fall semester. The official tapestry “loom launch” will take place on the mill floor at 1 p.m., Tuesday, December 20, (201 W. Lincoln Highway, Penndel, 19047).

Philadelphia attorney Tom Sharbaugh, a Penn State graduate (1973) who with his family early in 2011 developed the loan fund based on successful microfinance models in the developing world, said the accompanying Langhorne-Sommese project is just as unique as the emergency loan program aimed at helping the rapidly growing number of students in need.

“Langhorne and Lanny form the perfect combination – literally working hand in hand – to bring to life in the form of an original Langhorne Carpet tapestry an incredibly inspired and uplifting design,” explained Sharbaugh. “The microfinance loan project is a first at Penn State – and possibly in the U.S. – and the fund raising is equally unique from a philanthropic standpoint.” He said Langhorne’s generous contribution of services enables the loan fund recipients to significantly benefit from each $300 purchase. The limited edition is for sale at http://www.langhornecarpets.com or by phone at 215-757-5155. The first art gallery to exhibit and sell the tapestry is The Rosenfeld Gallery (http://www.therosenfeldgallery.com), 113 Arch Street, Philadelphia.

Bill Morrow, President of Langhorne Carpet and director of its “Carpets of Caring” initiative to support non-profit organizations, said the Penndel, Bucks County mill is honored to be able to work closely with Sommese, an internationally-renowned designer, and his powerful design, which comes to life as a 27” x 36” woven, 100% natural Wilton carpet. He noted that each tapestry contains more than 2,000 yards of yarn – five colors in all - and features more than 80,000 individual stitches. “Without a doubt, this is one of our most exciting projects, and that includes weaving carpets for the White House and a host of other landmarks,” said Morrow. “Everyone at Langhorne is proud to be part of this project in support of determined students facing tough economic challenges.”

Anna M. Griswold, Executive Director of Penn State’s Office of Student Aid, said the loan program comes at a crucial time for financially-strapped students. “One of our first recipients has been forced for financial reasons to take five years to graduate. As a result, he has exhausted his eligibility for state grants. He was already working, and his father had exhausted all options. The new micro loan helped close the gap and will now see him through to graduation in the spring and on to his career.”

Sommese, head of the graphic design program in the College of Arts and Architecture, in explaining the colorful and captivating design said, “The interwoven hands express the feeling of nurturing and caring that is implicit in the nature of the project. Metaphorically, the interwoven fingers not only represent the process of weaving the tapestry but also the unique interpersonal relationship of the people contributing and the students receiving the loans. The brightly colored areas between the fingers signify the exciting, joyful, and fulfilling feelings that are inherent in the culture of giving.”

Mr. Sharbaugh can be reached at tomsharbaugh(at)gmail(dot)com

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