MLK Day of Service Challenge

By Marie Dunn-Harris

Walking through the hallway of the WSOS-Jordan Family Development Center on campus, members of Alpha Chi Omega and Pi Beta Phi learned what project they were going to be working on for the day. Instead of having a day off from classes, they spent the day crafting, cutting, ironing and decorating artwork from preschool students that will be put on display in the center’s hallway.

“It’s just really good to go out in the community and feels good to give back,” said Candice Cotton.

The senior special education major joined her sorority sisters for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Challenge. Some of them, like Cotton, have done this in the past. But for others, it was something new.

“I loved the idea,” said sophomore Sara Gordon. “BG is known for student involvement and this is an awesome way of giving back.”

Students started arriving at 8:30 a.m. to check in at the Lenhart Grand Ballroom in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. They were given breakfast and heard a presentation from members of the community and BGSU administration before heading out to their locations. One of the presenters was Kate Sommerfeld, director of the United Way of Wood County.

“Today we celebrate a man who served life dedicated to the betterment of society. We’re honored to be working with the Falcon community to provide service and action,” Sommerfeld said.

An estimated 800-1,200 BGSU students participated in this year’s MLK Day of Service Challenge, at 51 sites across northwest Ohio.

“We are going to have an enormous impact,” said Sommerfeld. “At (a value of) $22 per hour and an estimated 4,800 volunteer hours, that equates to over $100,000 in service time that you are providing, so thank you for that!”

Dean of Students Jodi Webb emphasized the importance of BGSU’s mission and encouraged everyone to stay involved.

“I appreciate your commitment to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of service,” she said. “Take the time to reflect not only on the service that you provide today, but how you can continue to give back during your time at BGSU and beyond.”

Senior Shaunda Brown plans on doing just that. This is her second year volunteering as a site leader for the MLK Day of Service Challenge.

“For me, volunteering is natural. It’s something you’re supposed to be doing. And it’s really cool to see the rewards every year,” she said.

Heather Black, a senior education major, said she wanted to participate after hearing how much fun her sorority sisters had last year.

“I saw the pictures from last year and it looked really exciting and it was something that I missed out on,” she said.

For others, it was a chance to not only give back, but to get to know their peers.

“This was one of the first opportunities I had to do something with my sorority and bond with them, while helping out the community at the same time,” said freshman Katlyn Iacovino.

Sue Krassow, office manager at the WSOS-Jordan Family Development Center, looks forward to the event each year.

“We always have such good people come and we enjoy having them and seeing what they create,” she said.

This is the sixth year the Office of Service-Learning has organized the Day of Service Challenge. But this year, an overwhelming number of students registered to participate.

“With the number of volunteers that registered, it’s been a lot of work. But that’s what’s really great about it — people who want to work and not sleep in. It’s not only good for BGSU but also for the community and for so many who want to give back,” said Maddi Georgoff, a Civic Action Leader from the Office of Service-Learning.

President Mary Ellen Mazey also expressed her appreciation to all the participants.

“You exemplify Dr. King’s work of service to this great country and now your community will benefit from your work today. We are so proud of you,” she said.