A group of 150-plus volunteers as diverse as Martin Luther King Jr. would have liked participated in a national day of service in honor of MLK Day Monday. The mostly college-aged volunteers worked from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. living up to the day’s tagline of “a day on, not a day off.”
The group went into various places in the community, among them Via Christi Health Center where some sang hymns with seniors. Others conducted habitat maintenance at Tuttle Creek State Park, and some sorted through donations at Ogden Friendship House of Hope.
Linda Bachelor, project coordinator of HandsOn Kansas State, said the goal of the event is to create the “beloved community” that King envisioned. The local event has been run by the service organization for five years and by K-State for 15 years.
“It’s exciting to see people work alongside one another and represent what Martin Luther King believed in — community, non-violence and service,” Bachelor said.
The volunteers expressed gratitude for the work King did during the Civil Rights Movement and excitement for the chance to volunteer in remembrance of the ideas he stood for.
“I think Martin Luther King had a big impact on our history,” said Jonathan Bernard, member of the scholarship-based Edgerley-Franklin Urban Leadership Group. “It’s important to utilize our time today and remember him for what he did.
Jasmine Holmes, KSU Black Student Union public relations director, said King did a lot for others, and volunteering represented an opportunity to also help.
“Something like volunteering doesn’t compare to what he did,” Holmes said. “I think this is a small token to show appreciation.”
Kevin Ignowski, a Moore Hall employee at K-State, said the event allowed him to meet community needs and provide a fitting tribute to King.
“(King) talked about helping your brothers and sisters and helping those around you,” he said. “That’s what volunteering is.”
Grace Huang, a transfer student from China, also works in Moore Hall. Even as a relatively new arrival, she recognized the significance of the event.
“It’s important to remember someone who has done a lot for American history,” Huang said. “We need to remember the lesson and pass it on.”
With the eagerness of the volunteers, the service event became full during the pre-registration phase for the first time. Typically, signups occur during the morning of the event, but around 30 people had to wait for someone not to show up to get a spot.
K-State student Mychal Davis was one of those people waiting for a spot to open up. He said he’s done previous events for both HandsOn Kansas State and as a part of MLK Day.
“Martin Luther King Jr. did a lot for the community,” Davis said. “Instead of lounging around at home, you need to be out in the community to do something in his memory.”
Davis stood in line as the crowd dwindled, wanting to hear some good news. “I could get ready for the semester since it starts tomorrow and other activities, but I’m just hoping it opens up,” he said.
Davis’s patience paid off in the end, and he headed to help out at Seven Dolors Catholic Church.