Options laid out for MLK Day of Service

Logan Raschke, Managing Editor

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Students can honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy by spending an hour or two volunteering at Eastern’s Day of Service on Jan. 20.

There are several different ways students can participate in the Day of Service on campus:

• Creating activity kits for children of St. Jude’s Hospital.

Beth Gillespie, director for the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism, said the activity kits have supplies for constructing dream catchers. Each kit has the materials for the dream catcher and a set of instructions for the children to follow.

Making dream catchers is a good way for the children at the hospital to partake in a fun, engaging activity during their stay at St. Jude’s, she said.

• Creating “Love bugs” for children of St. Jude’s Hospital.

Gillespie said the love bugs are made from pinecones. These will be sent to a separate St. Jude’s Hospital, and each love bug will have a note attached that states the students at Eastern are thinking of them.

• Crafting dog and cat toys for local rescues and animal shelters

Gillespie said the toys can help dogs and cats feel loved and cared for as they wait to get adopted.

• Making fleece blankets for One Stop Community Christmas

Gillespie said the Day of Service will begin the production of fleece blankets that will ultimately go to families in need who participate in the One Stop Community Christmas.

She said Eastern donated more than 1,000 fleece blankets to families through the program last year, and she is anticipating about 50 or 100 to jumpstart the tally leading up to the 2020 One Stop Community Christmas.

• Writing postcards to prospective students

Gillespie said students will start their service on campus by writing postcards to prospective students that explain why they chose Eastern for their higher education. Hearing that advice and perspective from someone with that similar background can be very helpful to a prospective student, she said.

“We know that especially in the 18 to 22-year age range, information coming from those in a similar age bracket is a lot more powerful than someone who is 10 or 20 years older saying the same thing,” she said.

Students can also engage in an off-campus service project called “Grandma’s Got Gmail,” which takes place at Carnegie Public Library in Charleston.

“Grandma’s Got Gmail” is an outreach program that helps familiarize senior citizens with their technological needs, according to the library’s website.

Check-in for the on-campus service projects is at 2:45 p.m. on Jan. 20 in the University Ballroom of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union. The service projects will last from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m.

Crystal Brown, assistant director for the office, said students will meet at 1:30 p.m. for the Grandma’s Got Gmail project and return around 3:30 p.m. Transportation will be provided for the students who want to participate off campus.

In order to register, visit the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism’s page on Eastern’s website. Students can also register as a group of 10 or more if they choose, too.

Brown said 150 students have already registered, and she is hoping to see about 250 to 300 students on Jan. 20.

Gillespie said volunteering for the MLK Jr. Day of Service at Eastern is not only a fun and easy way to give back to the community, it is also a great way to honor the legacy of a man who did so much good work for his own community.

“I think Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spent his entire life fighting for the rights of other people around him and paying attention to his community and being an advocate to do good in whatever way that means for you,” she said.

Some people think of themselves as “advocates,” but in order to truly be an advocate for someone or some cause, people need to actually go out and contribute to what they believe in for their communities, Gillespie said. Students taking just one or two hours out of their Mondays to participate in these service projects is easy, fun and a great way to truly advocate while honoring the work MLK Jr. has done, she said.

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