Students give back on MLK Day

Kennedy Nolen, Muticultural Reporter

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Nearly 200 students spent their day off from classes volunteering their time Monday during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

Crystal Brown, assistant director of the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism, said this year the students made flower pots and planted seeds for seniors in local nursing homes.

The students also made recipe books for clients at local food pantries, put school supply kits together and made “pinecone love bugs” that will be sent to children in St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on Valentine’s Day. Brown said the love bugs are pinecones decorated as “cute and little” bugs.

The service projects are decided by what the nonprofit agencies in the community need, or what the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism thinks would be beneficial.

“We try and pick projects that can help serve (nonprofit agencies), but also be meaningful for our students to work on,” Brown said.

Brown said volunteering on Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a great opportunity to honor King and his legacy. Students who give back will feel good about what they are doing while helping people out, she said.

Emma Dambek, a sophomore history major, said she was volunteering on her day off because it is fun.

Dambek helped put school supplies kits together for local third through fifth grade students. The kits included a notebook, pencils, a folder, a highlighter, a glue stick, a toothbrush and other school items.

Jennifer Folami, a sophomore biological sciences and communication studies majors, said she volunteered this year because last year was great.

Folami packaged school supplies for students, made flowerpots for seniors and postcards for future Eastern students, as well as recipe cards for the local food pantry.

Folami said she will participate in every service day that she can until she graduates.

Adam Sandoval, a senior middle level education major, said he was volunteering to represent the Latin American Student Organization.

This was Sandoval’s second time participating in the Day of Service. Last year, he cleaned the cultural center. He said it was a lot of work, but it was worth it.

“It is nice knowing the students will have a clean environment to use,” Sandoval said.

The Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism partners with over 70 local, nonprofit organizations on a regular basis throughout the year, Brown said.

“We work with them if they need volunteers, or we work with them to connect our students who want to volunteer and give back,” she said.

Brown said there are three other service days in addition to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. For incoming students in August, there is an activity called Jumpstart 2 G.I.V.E, where students work with the community on a project.

National Make a Difference Day is another service day where the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism partner with the organizers of Family Weekend, Brown said.

The last day is Panther Service Day in April.

Kennedy Nolen can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].