In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, an estimated 300 residents participated in the nationwide Day of Service here Monday.
Locally, it is the 10th anniversary of HandsOn Kansas State organizing the community for volunteer work on behalf of the civil rights leader.
Volunteers went to numerous places in the community including highway cleanup, visiting the city’s retirement communities and sorting items at the Ogden Friendship House of Hope.
Keneice Musgrove, a junior at K-State, volunteered with K-State’s Black Student Union, one of many groups who participated Monday.
“In everything you do, you should give back to your community,” she said. Musgrove is from Kansas City, but being a student at Kansas State means her current community is Manhattan.
Musgrove, the BSU social programs director, said the Day of Service incorporates the group’s goals of building up African-Americans, becoming stronger students and giving back to the community.
“The Black Student Union wants to be known in the community,” she said. “This day is important to us.”
Musgrove said her volunteering goes back to high school at different places and during Global Youth Service Day, which occurs in April. “It’s always been an important part of my life,” Musgrove said. “I’m a hospitality major. All we do is serve other people.”
Musgrove said her grandfather, who was a firefighter for 25 years, provided inspiration for her serving spirit.
“He used to tell us when we were little that if there’s anything you can do to help someone, you do it,” she said. “You don’t know what position you’ll be in tomorrow.”
Musgrove said she enjoys the feeling that comes from helping others. “It sounds really corny, but you feel good when you make someone else feel good,” she said.
This is the type of attitude that Mackenzie Mong, a HandsOn K-State student program coordinator, said she’s glad to see. “It’s really gratifying to know there are people who look to serve,” she said.
Mong said the day is about putting aside differences and working together. “This is all in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and his vision of a peaceful world where tolerance and love is exhibited,” she said.
Musgrove said King represented strength and acceptance in his nonviolent civil disobedience techniques. “He showed people that it’s OK to love yourself and others even if they hate you,” she said.
Musgrove said volunteering represents the work that King did during the Civil Rights movement.
“Martin Luther King Jr. always served his community and his people,” she said. “The thing about serving is doing something for someone who is either incapable of doing it themselves or doesn’t know how to do it.”
Just as King had his Christian values, Musgrove said her spirituality is a factor in her work. “You have to have faith plus works,” she said. “As God blesses you, you should always be a blessing for others.”
Monday also represented the 30th annual local MLK celebration, which occurred at Manhattan Town Center. It included songs, dances, a Rosa Parks reenactment and displays of art from the community’s school children.
The start of the MLK Observance Week will be Saturday and it will continue through Feb. 1. The theme is “50 Years of Pursuing the Dream,” which is a reference to this year’s 50th anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, given August 28, 1963 during the March on Washington in Washington, D.C.