For the fifth year in a row, community members rallied together to donate their time on Martin Luther King Jr. Day by volunteering in the area.
Martin Luther King Jr. Service Day was hosted by Murray State Jan. 19 in honor of the civil rights activist and opened at 9 a.m. with a breakfast in the Curris Center.
“It was an amazing event with very powerful speakers including President Davies and Dr. Yocum,” said Gina Winchester, executive director of Murray State’s Office of Regional Outreach.
Jeff Yocum, the keynote speaker at the breakfast, is an associate minister for First Baptist Church in Springfield, Ill.
The King Day of Service turns King’s life and teachings into community service, helping to solve local problems.
Service projects during this day strive to strengthen communities, empower individuals and bridge barriers, according to Murray State’s Martin Luther King Jr. Service Day website.
“As a traditional day off from work, we encouraged the faculty, staff and students to make it a ‘day on’ for community services in keeping with the ideals Martin Luther stood for,” Winchester said.
Winchester said she believes volunteers gain personal growth and satisfaction knowing they helped others.
The experience also teaches civic responsibility, she said.
Those wishing to volunteer could sign up online at Murray State’s volunteer webpage. Some of the volunteer events included Need Line in Murray, donation collection for the cancer society Hope Lodge, painting sets at Playhouse in the Park and helping a family with yard work.
Last year, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., more than 250 volunteers contributed, completing 1,250 hours of community service, Winchester said.
This year approximately 150 people worked Monday afternoon, she said. The volunteers were comprised of students, faculty, staff, community leaders and families who brought their children to the event.
One of this year’s volunteers, Jordan Mitchell, graduate student from Irvington, Ky., said it was a day to reflect on what King did.
“I feel that this day meant reaching out to others and giving back,” he said. “I also believe, as responsible people, we need to help those less fortunate.”
Derek Stine, sophomore from Sparta, Ill., helped to organize and package food at Need Line in Murray.
“I volunteered because I want to show there are people out there who want to look out for others’ best interests,” Stine said.
Volunteering meant giving away some of your time to help and better others, he said.
“The poor and the needy still need food to sustain themselves, and I wanted to do something to help them,” Stine said.
Further activities will take place throughout the spring semester in honor of King and the Civil Rights Movement.
The full list of events can be found online at www.smore.com/4btk9.
Story by Sara Gantz, Contributing writer