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Ohio State students set to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy with day of service

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Martin Luther King jr. at "The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" on Aug. 12, 1963. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Martin Luther King jr. at “The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” on Aug. 12, 1963. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

To some students, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is more than just a day off of school as they choose to spend their day giving back through the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

Since 1999, the Frank W. Hale Black Cultural Center and Student Life’s Pay It Forward cohort have joined together to put on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

Last year, more than 1,000 Ohio State students honored King’s legacy by volunteering on-campus and across Columbus. A few of this year’s 50 service sites include COSI, Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio and Goodwill Columbus.

Jake Cohen, the adviser of Pay It Forward, said they have been planning the day of service since summer. Pay It Forward is a cohort within the Office of Student Life that consists of 21 students that strive to provide students with volunteering opportunities across Columbus, Cohen said.

Monday’s events will begin with registration at 7:45 a.m. where students are assigned on a first come, first serve basis to service sites. After, an opening ceremony will feature musical performances as well as a talk about King’s life, Cohen said. The volunteering will last until 1:30 p.m., when students will reconvene on campus for reflection activities.

“Our objective is this isn’t just a one time event, it’s a great way for students to learn more and provide opportunities to continue involvement beyond this day,” Cohen said.

Depending on the service sites, volunteers can do anything from spending time with senior citizens to helping organizations with maintenance work. Some advocacy organizations are also relying on volunteers to help them assemble informational packets and outreach materials.

Caroline Mashni, a third-year in Spanish and public affairs, said she has been involved in the day of service since her freshman year.

“I’m really passionate about service and serving the Columbus community and I think it’s a really great opportunity for Ohio State students to engage with the community of Columbus,” she said.

Mashni volunteered her first year, but now works as a chair on the MLK Day of Service within Pay It Forward. She has been working this past semester along with her co-chairs to coordinate the logistics of the event as well as finding service sites.

“It means a lot to be able to provide the opportunities to students and work with those agencies and provide them the assistance and volunteers they need,” Mashni said.

Cohen said that most of the service sites have been participating in the day of service for many years, but every year they strive to help more organizations across the city.

“It’s a really great day; it’s a great way to get involved,” Cohen said. “The spirit behind this event is for the Ohio State community to come together to honor Dr. King’s legacy through service.”

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