Though it was their day off, many students, faculty and staff set their alarm clocks anyway on Monday, Jan. 21, for a very selfless reason. Students sauntered through the cold to the third floor of the Curris Center to register for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service before hearing a special keynote address.
After moving words from a guest speaker, students embarked on an all-day commitment to serve their community. Upon arriving at the Curris Center, students received color-coded nametags, assigning them to one of six projects. By no uncertain terms, it was an overwhelmingly successful event.
Jennifer Revell, coordinator of service outreach, organized the event with help of multicultural affairs, the office of regional outreach and other campus organizations. It was a perfect opportunity to test-drive the new GetConnected system, Revell said. GetConnected is an online volunteer platform that allows volunteers to connect to organizations in need.
The MLK Day of Service drew a record 130 faculty, staff and students to give of their time to help the community. Everyone who participated can log their hours and, upon approval from the organization, keep track of their hours and even create a volunteer résumé.
The eager students embarked to conquer six projects. Throughout three counties, students divided up. They prepared food for the Backpack Program to feed hungry kids, visited senior citizens at Spring Creek Health Care, organized supplies at Needline, built shelves and cleaned at Angel’s Community Clinic, delivered 100 bikes for repair and distribution to needy kids and cleared land at the Homeplace in LBL. Overall, Revell said, it was a stellar example of what MLK Jr. Day means.
Students who visited Spring Creek all had the chance to visit Bessie Miller, a long-time Murray resident who has seen changes in civil rights over her many decades in western Kentucky. Smith is mother of six successful children who were leaders in the black community. Her late husband, Leon P. Miller, was a long-time educator at Douglas School and later at Murray High School. Miller, though hard of hearing, enjoyed sharing stories with students.
Those students who made the long trek to LBL received rave reviews from the staff and they were requested back next year. It was an opportunity for service, a strengthening of community understanding and a learning experience for the helpers and for those who they helped.
According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, the value of this service to the community sits at $9,000. And it was all completed on a day when they could have just as easily slept in.