Jan 22, 2013
By Regina Truong
Campus and community participants gathered in Walter Hall to reflect on their day's work after performing community service projects in Athens County on Saturday. The work kicked off Ohio University's celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.
Participants expressed their enthusiasm for the volunteering they performed that day, saying that it was a rewarding and fun experience. Volunteers were able to help people in need, such as providing lunch to individuals and building a house for a family. Volunteers agreed that it was important to focus on the poverty in Athens County, especially when there is a big need for it.
Katherine Copas, a sophomore majoring in sociology and economics who volunteered for the Habitat for Humanity, shared her excitement for her service project.
"I feel really accomplished because the work that we did at the construction site will be up for years and years to come," Copas said.
Besides helping people in need, students also had the opportunity to meet new people and build skills. Copas said volunteering helps to develop communication and leadership skills.
Participants shared their sentiment that volunteering on this day is important to honor the memory of Martin Luther King Jr., who fought to end poverty.
"A lot of people think of the racial things that he [MLK] fought for, but he also fought for people who lived in poverty," said Brittnee Pankey, a senior majoring in international relations. "By helping people who live in poverty, we're fulfilling one of the things that he was working on and dedicated to."
The opinions voiced by volunteers made a favorable impression. "I was amazed by the comments the students made and how insightful and wise they were," said Jim Sand, assistant director of residential housing and event moderator.
Sand urged participants to become activists like Dr. King.
"My sense of Dr. King was that he was fighting for justice, and while the fight has, in some ways, changed since from when he was alive, the fight for justice still goes on. We still have a lot of people who are hurting, so we need to do what we can to help them in the short term but also make changes in the long term."
The MLK Day of Service was a success. At the Southeast Ohio Food Bank, volunteers filled 30 skids of food boxes, exceeding the goal of 24 skids. At the Re-Store Habitat Store, volunteers worked so hard to clean the area that they ran out of tasks to complete.
Volunteers were able to work for one of four organizations, Habitat for Humanity, the Southeast Ohio Food Bank, United Campus Ministry or the Re-Store Habitat Store.
"We had a great sign-up and a great turnout," Sand said.
For more information about volunteer opportunities in Athens, students can go to the Campus Involvement Center website.