Martin Luther King, Jr. once said “everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.”
And for the past 10 years, Bowling Green State University has been trying to inspire its students, faculty, and staff to be great.
“We’re really trying to hammer that point home,” said Paul Valdez, the associate director at BGSU’s Center for Community & Civic Engagement.
For the 10th consecutive year BGSU is hosting a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on Monday. The community service event is open to all students, faculty, and staff at BGSU.
The event has seen exponential growth in participation since its genesis 10 years ago.
There were only 50 volunteers from the university in 2008, Mr. Valdez said. This year more than 800 students, faculty, and staff members are expected to volunteer with 45 community partners throughout northwest Ohio.
“Without the students we wouldn’t be able to make this happen,” Mr. Valdez said.
Projects will take place between noon and 4 p.m. Monday. Past projects have included cleaning, painting, and constructing boardwalks.
On a day when they could sleep in and enjoy time off from classes, some college students elect to serve their community. Students endure the cold, filing onto shuttle buses provided by the university to the various volunteer sites.
“We just want to make sure the community knows that we are here, we care, and we’re more than a college town,” said Angel Alls-Hall, a senior who’s participated in this event for three years.
“Personally it’s helped me to be humble and think about what the community needs,” she said. “Two to four hours out of my day could help an organization for two to three weeks.”
Mr. Valdez said a large-scale day of service plants the seed in students about the importance of committing to community engagement.
“This is a day to expand outside of our [Bowling Green] bubble and engage northwest Ohio,” Jacqui Campbell, a junior, said.
“Instead of taking a day off, we do a day on,” she said.
The University of Toledo is encouraging its students to give back in honor of Dr. King but school-sponsored service projects are minimal since the spring semester doesn’t begin until Tuesday, university spokesman Meghan Cunningham said.
“So while there’s not a list of formal events, we are encouraging our students to get involved and give back,” she said.
UT’s office of diversity has organized a group of students to help clean and renovate a science classroom at Old West End Academy.
There is a community-wide event on Monday at UT’s Savage Arena to honor Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy. The 17th annual Unity Celebration runs from 9-11 a.m. and is open to all.
Staff writer Sarah Elms contributed.
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