Karissa Lam / Asst. multimedia editor
Despite the day off of classes for a national holiday, students ventured out of bed and to the Ohio Union before 8 a.m. Monday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through acts of community service.
Put on by the Ohio Union’s ServeCorps, the MLK Day of Service provided a way for students to be involved in the Columbus community to honor King.
Katie Dean Williams, a first-year masters student in higher education and student affairs, works as a graduate administrative assistant with ServeCorps. Williams organized the day’s events.
Williams and her staff worked with several different companies around Columbus, organizing 48 different sites at which 1,061 students volunteered. These locations included soup kitchens, Columbus Metro Library branches, the YMCA and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
ServeCorps arranged for students to be assigned a volunteer location Monday morning at the Archie M. Griffin Ballroom.
“It’s great to see so many different groups who want to work with OSU students, that are having their staff open up and work with us on a national holiday,” Williams said.
Ohio State students were not the only people involved in service on this holiday. President Barack Obama spoke at a school in Washington D.C., Monday about the importance of service in the community.
“There’s nobody who can’t serve, nobody who can’t help somebody else,” Obama said. “At a time when the country has been going through some difficult economic times, for us to be able to come together as a community, people from all different walks of life, and make sure that we’re giving back, that’s ultimately what makes us the strongest, most extraordinary country on Earth.”
The early morning at OSU began with a welcome ceremony put on by ServeCorps members. Speakers included President E. Gordon Gee, Larry Williamson, director of the Hale Center and Curtis Austin from the University of Southern Mississippi.
Austin told the story of Clyde Kennard, an African-American who attempted to enroll at Mississippi State College (now the University of Southern Mississippi at Hattiesburg), and was turned down numerous times from 1957-1959. He was later framed for robbery by local authorities and sentenced to seven years in prison. Kennard died three years into his sentence from being overworked and beaten.
Austin explained that Kennard’s story was one of many that motivated King’s civil rights movement, and that “Dr. King was more than a dreamer, he was a doer.”
After hearing from the speakers, about 1,000 volunteers ventured out into the city to do their part in honoring King.
Sam Urs, a third-year in biomedical engineering, said the opportunity to take part in such an event was just as simple as it was rewarding.
“ServeCorps makes it easy for students to take part in MLK Service,” Urs said. “Rather than finding a way to do it alone, you can just show up at the Union and volunteer with others. They already have the locations to volunteer at set up for you.”
Even students from outside the OSU community took part in the event. While on a trip visiting BuckeyeThon, a group of four students from the University of Maryland’s dance charity called Terp Thon took time out of their trip to volunteer with MLK Day of Service.
“It’s cool to see such a big university come together on a day off, and see it from and outside perspective,” said Melanie Modula, a third-year at Maryland.
Many who were involved with the day’s activities said they were pleased with the number of volunteers who showed up to take part in service.
“The one word that comes to mind is beautiful,” said Searius Add, a spoken-word poet and speaker at the event. “For people to take a ‘day off’ and make it a ‘day on’ is rather humbling.”
After many hours of planning the volunteer efforts for the day, Williams said she hopes the MLK Day of Service will serve as a stepping stone for volunteers to continue their service efforts on their own.