Students come together at MLK Day of Service

Student leaders hold up signs for their group in Richardson Ballroom before embarking into the community to complete service projects. Photo by Frances Parrish • 

Student leaders hold up signs for their group in Richardson Ballroom before embarking into the community to complete service projects. Photo by Frances Parrish •

student gardeningMLK Day of Service is a national event in which communities come together to perform an act of service to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

Winthrop teamed up with Clinton Junior College and York Technical College to serve the community this past Monday.

“It encompasses MLK’s vision,” Justine Knudson, an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) said.

The MLK committee, consisting of faculty members from all three of the participating universities, arranged the community service project.

Volunteers had the opportunity to help with 32 different projects for 17 various community partners: from reading to children at the YMCA to Adopt-a-Highway to working in the community garden.

There were 236 volunteers that helped 81 elderly and 185 youth, collected 34 bags of trash, passed out 162 flyers, visited 77 places, built two more garden plots, interviewed 44 people and served a total of 472 hours.

To start off the day, Angelo Jeter, professor at Clinton Junior College and Winthrop alumus, spoke to the volunteers about achieving Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream.

Jeter brought King’s speech down to the students’ level and compared America in the civil rights era to FAFSA–the students waiting to receive federal aid were the citizens waiting for equality.

“We are becoming a nation that is morally bankrupt,” Jeter said.

After Jeter spoke, the volunteers received information for their service project. Volunteers spent about two hours working on the project and then reconvened in Richardson Ballroom for lunch and reflections.

Knudson explained that volunteers did direct service in which they worked with kids at the YMCA or elderly in a senior care center and indirect service in which volunteers cleaned or painted for local nonprofit organizations.

Volunteers also participated in community outreach in which they promoted nonprofit organizations such as Safe Passage and Catawba Care  by interviewing people or passing out flyers.

“It’s inspiring to see how many students will volunteer,” Knudson said.

Jill Wahlbrink, an AmeriCorp VISTA, explained that the volunteers are not told what their service project is till the day of service because it teaches the volunteers to “participate not anticipate.”

The countdown to opening the folders with the information and materials needed to complete the project creates excitement among the volunteers.

Wahlbrink said she hopes that students will be motivated to continue to do service for the community after MLK Day of Service.

“It’s a gateway to service,” Wahlbrink said.

Some students enjoyed the Day of Service.

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Local college students participate in MLK Day of Service. Photos by Frances Parrish •

“It was fun to do something for the community. It shows you are not a Mr. Grinch,” Shawn Boyett, a junior computer tech major from York Tech said.

Boyett explained that his group went to A Place of Hope on Blackmon Rd.

Amie Detar, a Winthrop senior mass communication major, volunteered at Tender Heart Thrift Store. She volunteered last year and came back again because “it was so much fun.”

Winthrop junior early childhood education major, Rashawne Coates volunteered at the Day of Service by passing out flyers for Catawba about HIV/AIDS awareness day.

“It was a good experience,” Coates said.

For more information about MLK Day of Service visit