Students to volunteer for MLK Day

Campus Editor and Campus Editor

During his life, Martin Luther King Jr. stood for unity and fellowship, and on a day dedicated to him, University students will honor his principles by giving back to the community.

An anticipated 800 student volunteers will spend their Monday off by volunteering in the community, a 300-volunteer increase from 2013.

“It’s significantly higher” compared to this past year, said Jane Rosser, director of Service Learning. “I think it’s probably reflective that it’s really emerging as the distinctive service event.”

Volunteers will gather Monday morning in the Union Ballroom before being split into teams and sent out to 51 different sites for the day. The sites, which are all over Wood and Lucas counties, include metro parks, the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity.

“The projects cut across all sorts of issues and meet a wide variety of needs in the community,” Rosser said.

A variety of campus departments across the University have lent a hand to sponsor the event, Rosser said. This includes Dining Services, which is providing breakfast and lunch. But Rosser also emphasized the leadership students have displayed in planning and engaging in this day.

“This is students engaging other students in services,” Rosser said. “It highlights BGSU’s commitment to service.”

University Activities Organization helped with the funding and marketing of the day, said Jasmine Dawson, a junior and the social outreach co-director of UAO.

Dawson said this is her first year volunteering for MLK Day.

“Service is something that’s very important to me on campus,” Dawson said.

One site will be at Shared Lives Studio and Gallery in Toledo, where students will make repairs to the studio and repaint it, said Theresa Athaide-Victor, the project coordinator and employee with the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

The gallery supports artists with developmental disabilities. Student volunteers will have a chance to interact with several of these artists on Monday.

“I hope that it’s going to make a difference in how they think about people who are different than they are,” Athaide-Victor said.

This is the first time Athaide-Victor has partnered with the University for MLK Day, and she said she looks forward to a “real rich education” for the artists and the University volunteers.

“It’s not just painting and patching,” Athaide-Victor said. “It’s what’s going to go on while we’re painting and patching.”

MLK Day is not meant to be a day off for students, but a day to honor the principles King stood for by giving to those in need, Rosser said.

“The kickoff is really about the meaning of Martin Luther King day,” Rosser said. “People are encouraged to engage in the community in celebration of Martin Luther King’s legacy.”