Martin Luther King Jr. Day sparks local student service

 

Becky Sexton, freshman from XXX, participates in a day of service at a local elementary school in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday. || Photo courtesy of Holly Pritchard

Olivia Medovich
Staff writer

Forty-nine years ago Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have a dream,” and today that dream still lives on.

In honor of King, Murray State students carried on his dream by taking the “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service Collegiate Challenge,” hosted by the University on Monday.

King was a civil rights activist who fought to end segregation by peaceful demonstration.

On Aug. 28, 1963, King directed a demonstration in Washington, D.C., of 250,000 people where he delivered his, “I Have a Dream,” speech to fight for equal rights of all races.

The 104 student volunteers were unaware of what community service projects they would be completing when they signed up.

Students were assigned to complete projects at Needline, the local food bank, the American Red Cross, United Way, Wrather West Kentucky Museum, North Calloway Elementary and Angels Attic, a non-profit retail store that supports the Calloway County Community Clinic.

Gina Winchester, executive director of Regional Stewardship, said because students were unaware of what their project would be when they arrived, each experienced a greater challenge and was forced to use all resources.

“I really like this format because it gives them more of an opportunity to engage,” Winchester said. “They had to become engaged with the organization and find out what their needs are and find out what they could do to help them in that short amount of time.”

Each of the groups had only five hours to complete the projects.

Amber Schaudt, service learning program specialist, who organized the Collegiate Challenge, said volunteering shows dedication to the legacy King left behind.

“We have come so far and we don’t need to forget about where we came from,” Schaudt said. “We need to move forward.”

She said the Collegiate Challenge helped the students feel invested in the community and she hopes it will make them want to lend their services more.

Schaudt said students who volunteered exceeded the expectations of all the organizations.

“We had six organizations that were impacted greatly,” she said. “Two of our sites asked us to do it again next year.”

Shawn Webb, junior from Louisville, Ky., who spent the day collecting shirts for Angel’s Attic, said it was inspirational to give back to the community and spread King’s message.

“Just getting to meet the people around the community is awesome,” Webb said. “It was a great bonding experience with my fraternity brothers.”

Some of the students spent the day helping with renovations at North Calloway Elementary.

Students painted the cafeteria, cleaned out the boiler room and picked up cigarette butts outside the school.

Rebecca Kilby, freshman from Murray, said it was rewarding to carrying on King’s message of the good that can come out of people working together.

“It feels good to do something with your day off instead of worrying about classes and stuff,” Kilby said.

Other events held throughout the week in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day included the MLK Jr. Breakfast Monday morning, MLK Jr. Keynote Address later that day, MLK Jr. Day of Service a the MLK Jr. Panel Discussion Wednesday evening.

Marvin D. Mills Scholars Community Service Project will be held on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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