MLK Day of Service- Literacy Kits

Almost 50 students and volunteers were eager to start coloring and working on creating 800 literacy kits at Hillel for Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. The kits, based on the book The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, will be given to kindergarteners in the Head Start program across Portage County to help improve literacy skills. 


Project Director in the Division of Student Affairs Barb Boltz said in Portage County, there is a 22 percent poverty rate. On top of that, 21 percent of families are A.L.I.C.E., which stands for asset limited, income constrained, employed. 


“People living like this are spending their money on food, shelter, medical costs … books are not a concern. They’re trying to live day-to-day,” Boltz said. 


Sophomore communication studies major Britney Hargis and junior biology major Olivia Haas were the student leaders for the group and chose to volunteer for the Day of Service because of their shared love for helping people.


“I like to help out and be a leader, especially for younger people on campus who need more help finding their way,” Haas said. “And, it’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He gave so much service to the United States, it’s important to honor his legacy of serving today.”


Students took pride in using their day off of school for good. Some had volunteered at previous Days of Service and returned for today. Some just wanted to use their day off to help others. 


“It’s so important to get involved and help in any way that we can,” said Alyssa Chan, a freshman biology pre-med major. “Especially since there’s no school, there’s no excuse.”


Even though they were tired from an early Monday morning, other students shared the same view as Chan.


“Martin Luther King Jr. always said to do more than speak — it’s important to act,” said Myana Samuel-Evanson, a sophomore finance major. Her tablemates nodded their heads in agreeance. 


“A few hours out of my day to give back for all of the good that’s been done,” said Brandon Hawkins, a senior education major. “It’s a great bargain.”


This is the fifth year Kent State has worked with United Way of Portage County in making literacy kits. The result has been hundreds of kids who get their own copies of books with an engaging way to help them learn. 


“It’s really a no-brainer, we get a day off,” said Hawkins. “We should use it to give back and stand up. It’s important that we show support for all communities, just like Martin Luther King Jr. did.”


Contact Kimmy Daniels at [email protected].