Students volunteer, learn about MLK’s history


Katja Benz

Students gather for an Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism event meant to honor Martin Luther King Jr. through community service.

Katja Benz, Campus Reporter

The Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism held volunteer events Jan. 17 in the University Ballroom of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union. The events of the afternoon were held in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

Students could register for one of two times. During each session, participants made tie blankets and listened to a presentation given by John Bickford, a professor of Social Studies education.

Bickford said that attending these types of events helps students recognize the importance of decreasing marginalization. “We’re bringing awareness to it,” said Bickford. “The more people we talk to the more that we alert them. The demonstration and the vigil tonight is a wonderful thing because it’s powerful and it’s out there and it’s for the community to see. This discussion today, there was maybe forty to fifty college kids here willing to listen and that’s empowering. This is one part of it. To helping America live up to its ideals.”

Many students attended the events, including Gina Kirshenbaum, a junior early childhood education major. Kireshenbaum attended the event with some of her sorority sisters.

Kirshenbaum thinks that it is always important to go to these events. “The best way is just to lead by example,” said Kirshenbaum. “So of course I’m going to ask my members to sign up for this and I’m going to go ahead and do it myself as well. Just to really encourage them. It also helps having a friend there with you to go ahead and do it.”

Other students think that it is important to support everyone. The afternoon’s events helped support local charity One Stop Community Christmas.

Katherine Wellen, a sophomore public relations major, thinks that showing support is crucial. “It shows people and makes them feel better because it shows that we support this certain group or this certain ethnicity or religion,” said Wellen. “It shows that we support you no matter what you believe in or who you are as a person.”

These events highlighted the work of Martin Luther King Jr. Beth Gillespie, the director of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism, also thinks that this support is also vital, and it is important to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

“The point of today is to honor the work that Dr. Martin Luther King jr. did during his lifetime,” said Gillespie. “You know, all he did was stand up for things that he believed. Stand up for other people and try to make the world a more equitable and better place for everyone. And it’s our responsibility as humans to carry that forward. And so by having the students come together today and do some good for our community, it’s a way to acknowledge what he did and understand that it’s also in our power to be doing good for people around us.”

Even though students may not have had time to volunteer today, there are other opportunities that students may look into through the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism.

Kirshenbaum thinks that it is important to volunteer, no matter what groups someone could be in. “Well, obviously, we like to give back to the community,” said Kirshenbaum. “That’s one of our goals as the sorority. We do a lot of community service hours. And then also because there are no classes today. I mean, you might as well spend your time positively.”

Gillespie thinks that it is also important to inspire others through going to these kinds of events. “It’s up to us to continue to inspire those around us to speak out to advocate and take care of each other,” said Gillespie. “By being here today. We are doing just that.”


Katja Benz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].