Students honor Martin Luther King Jr. through volunteering


(From left to right) Senior sports administration major Angelina Denetriade, senior english major Elizabeth Laubert and senior fashion merchandising major Austin Hoepf make blankets for the MLK Day of Service on Jan. 20. 2020. The blankets were made for those experiencing homelessness.

Sara Crawford Assigning Editor

While many students jumped at the idea of having the chance to sleep in and do nothing on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, some students, faculty and staff took the opportunity to participate in the “day on, not a day off” holiday. 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day has been known as the “day on, not a day off,” making it into a day of service for people in the community. In Kent, Community Engaged Learning hosted a Day of Service, similar to their monthly ones, dedicated to helping the Kent community. 

“It’s a wide array of different service projects all with the goal of getting to know the community better, getting to know your peers better and we really really do want to make sure that the participants are really tying the work they are doing to the work of Dr. King,” said Abigail Noble, coordinator for Community Engaged Learning. 

Different service projects were hosted in Kent, most located on campus to, in the end, help out the Kent and surrounding communities.

On campus, groups did several different service projects such as making fleece blankets for individuals experiencing homelessness, preparing food in the Campus Kitchen, making textile items into new items for the farmer’s market, making tote bags out of T-shirts and making literacy kits for the United Way of Portage County. 

Some students had the opportunity to go off campus, some to Habitat for Humanity to help sort and price donated items and some to Hattie Larlham, a place that provides residential services for adults with developmental disabilities, to help paint rooms in the homes. 

One of the ways to help students tie together their experience with volunteering to Martin Luther King Jr. is through a chosen speaker for this event. 

When deciding on the best speakers for this day of service, the focus was to find someone who works in the community. N.J. Akbar is the assistant dean for academic diversity success and is a part of the Akron School Board. 

Another way to create a connection is through reflection time after all of the service projects led by student leaders for this event. This allows students to understand more about the connection between their volunteering, Martin Luther King Jr. and why the day is dedicated to being a day of service nationwide. 

Community Engaged Learning recently partnered with USG in creating Care About Kent, a program that encourages more student organizations to volunteer during the monthly Days of Service. USG promotes the service days to the student organizations, and if enough of the people from each organization go, USG will reward them. 

For the MLK Day of Service, 65 participants alone are a part of the Care About Kent program. “It has increased numbers a lot and it’s been cool to see new students who typically wouldn’t participate in our day of service participate because of that initiative,” Noble said. 

The MLK Day of Service spots were filled by 200 volunteers, taking part in the “day on” motto of MLK Day.

Contact Sara Crawford at [email protected]