Socially Responsible Sweatshop – MLK

Students and members of the Kent community came together as they measured, traced and cut donated material as a way to give back to their community on the MLK Day of Service.

The Socially Responsible Sweatshop is a volunteer organization in Kent that consists of about 40 volunteers per week who dedicate themselves to sewing materials, selling produce and more.

“We take landfill-destined textiles and turn them into beautiful, useful things like meditation pillows, yoga mat bags and many [other] useful things that people use at home,” said Mary Ann Kasper, founder of the Socially Responsible Sweatshop.

Those who volunteered during this day of service traced and cut heart-shaped fabrics, which would later be sewed together, stuffed with catnip and sold at $3 to those who shop at Haymaker Farmers’ Market. 

Student leader Jasmyn Robinson, a junior psychology major, helped make catnip toys during this day of service not only because student leaders are required to attend and help lead the events, but also to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. 

“We are chosen to bring the energy, to be here for the students, to create a welcoming environment for service […] and to encourage the students to come out and participate, even on snowy days like this,” Robinson said. “MLK did such big things for us, I think it’s important that we give back in anyway that we can.”

Volunteers also created meditation pillow liners, cutting circles and thick stripes of fabric that would later be sewed together and stuffed with 13 pounds of textile waste collected from The Fashion School and Our House Furniture.

Ashanti Black, a senior psychology major, snipped fabric with her fellow Sister Circle organization members to do more for their community.

“It’s always really important to us to make sure that not only do we show our support for our own community, but that we always encourage service and leadership,” Black said. “That’s something that we work on in Student Multicultural Center, so we always try to do that outside the Student Multicultural Center as well.”

Fellow Sister Circle member Chloe Drake, a junior enterprise and communications major, agreed with Balck, noting how it’s typically difficult to get the group together due to busy schedules. With the day off, they were able to get together and serve their community.

“It was a perfect day. We were all available to do it since it’s MLK Day,” Drake said. “It’s important to just live out his legacy. He never wanted service to be forgotten.”

The Socially Responsible Sweatshop is located under the bridge downtown at The Haymaker Farmers Market on Franklin and Summit road from May through October from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.. From November through April, the Socially Responsible Sweatshop is located at the United Methodist Church of Kent, Pierson Fellowship Hall, 303 West Main Street from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Contact Becca Sagaris at [email protected].