Giving back

BGSU Firelands students, faculty and staff join the MLK Day of Service Challenge

By: Jennifer Sobolewski  

For the last eight years, BGSU students, faculty and staff have spent the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday out in the community making a difference for the Day of Service challenge. This year, for the first time, BGSU Firelands also accepted the challenge. A group of 19 volunteered at the Victory Kitchen in Sandusky.

Trinidy Jeter, coordinator of student and campus activities at Firelands, said she was excited to bring the Erie County campus on board and recognize the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

“I had the opportunity to meet with the Office of Service-Learning and they shared amazing stories about the Day of Service and invited us to participate,” she said. “I wanted to engage the Erie County community directly.”

Jeter said Firelands faculty offered up the volunteer experience to their students and that some of the staff and administrators brought their entire families with them.

“I was very pleased with the turnout and how we were able to be a part of serving others at Victory Kitchen.”

Jeter said the food pantry was ecstatic to see the group. The volunteers served a meal, prepped food items, cleaned and also worked in the stock room.

“They shared it would have taken them awhile to have accomplished the same tasks,” Jeter said. “That’s the legacy of celebrating Dr. King’s life. There is power in numbers when people come together with a goal. I was happy to see how the patrons were so appreciative, and the owners, but the participants shared they wanted to do more and that’s the purpose of the holiday. Let this day be a starting point for a yearlong commitment to service.”

Shaleta Shipp, a pre-med biology major at Firelands who volunteered, said just talking about the experience makes her emotional.

“I had an amazing time. It felt right. I felt beautiful and inspired to do more for the greater good for all people,” Shipp said. “As I was in the kitchen prepping food for the next meal with my classmates, advisers, the dean and administrators, I felt at peace. It was beautiful to see us all come together and complete something so stunning.”

Jeter is already thinking of ways to expand participation next year. “People are interested and want to help. We just created an opportunity for them.”

Shipp is one of those people. She said the experience has inspired her to become more active and encourage more people to give back. “Events like the MLK Day of Service are important because it shows how much we as a whole care, are willing to help and are willing to continue to keep his legacies alive, strong and blazing.”

“BGSU, as a university committed to community engagement, made a promise to serve both the region that surrounds the Bowling Green campus and the Firelands campus as well,” said Dr. Jane Rosser, director of the Office of Service-Learning. “Trinidy Jeter has brought renewed energy to community service and service-learning work to her campus, and we were excited to see the great work that Firelands students accomplished.”

Overall, 721 people volunteered for the Day of Service Challenge on Jan. 19, serving a total of 2,648 hours at 45 community partners. When you translate those hours to a dollar amount, BGSU volunteers contributed $56,667 to the northwest Ohio community.