Registration now open for 10th annual MLK Jr. Day of Service

Logan Raschke, News Editor

Students can register online to volunteer for Eastern’s 10th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

It is set for Monday with check-in at 2:45 p.m. at the University Ballroom of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

Crystal Brown, assistant director of the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism, said volunteers will participate in one of several service projects that they can reserve online during registration during the MLK Jr. Day of Service.

Out of the five service projects, two of them will be on campus at the Grand Ballroom of the Union, and the other three will be off campus, she said.

The on-campus projects, which are also the ones with the most volunteers, will take place from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and they include producing recipe books for local food pantries, making fleece blankets for OneStop Community Christmas and using leftover scrap pieces of fleece from last year’s project to make cat and dog toys for the local animal shelter.

The three off-campus projects include taking volunteers to the Charleston Transitional Facility to do arts and crafts, the Charleston library to assist seniors in the community with their technology needs, the Charleston food pantry to make boxes of food for donations and Standing Stone to sort donations and assist with anything else its members need help with.

Regarding the on-campus volunteer projects, Brown said she expects about 150-200 students to register.

The off-campus projects require far fewer volunteers; the Transitional Facility will have 10, the library will have eight, the Charleston food pantry will have six and Standing Stone will have 10, and registration is nearly full for all of them, she said.

While there is no official deadline to register online for the service projects, Brown said it would help the Office of Student Engagement and Volunteerism determine head counts if students did so by Friday afternoon.

Additionally, registration for the MLK Jr. Day of Service is not restricted to just students at Eastern; faculty and staff at Eastern and members of Charleston’s community are also welcome to volunteer, she said.

Brown said she would encourage everyone at Eastern to volunteer because just one person can make a very big difference.

In fact, Illinois has quantified how much money one person is donating by volunteering just one hour of their time, she said.

“The state of Illinois says that for every hour you volunteer, that’s the equivalent of making a $25 dollar donation to that nonprofit,” she said.

Seeing as students, faculty and staff from Eastern have volunteered over 130,000 hours of their time to helping nonprofit organizations, that amount equals over $3 million worth of donations, she said.

Beth Gillespie, director of the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism, said at the MLK Jr. Day of Service students will be volunteering a total of about 400 or more hours of their time, which is worth about $10,000 according to the state of Illinois, to help those in need. Even though students are just volunteering a couple hours of their day, it really does add up to a huge contribution, she said.

Besides the incredible amount of good volunteering does for a community, it is also a remarkable way to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr., Gillespie said.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an exceptional human being who spent his entire short, obviously because he was assassinated, life giving back and fighting and advocating for others,” she said, “so it feels like the perfect way to honor what he did and his legacy by doing exactly that—taking care of other people, paying attention to our community and being an advocate for those in our community who don’t have a voice themselves.”

In order to register online, students should visit the page for Civic Engagement and Volunteerism on Eastern’s website and click “Volunteer Now.”

Logan Raschke can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].