“Day of Service speaks volumes:” Over 200 students volunteer on MLK Day

On Monday, Jan. 20 students participated in a range of volunteer activities for Lawrence University’s Day of Service in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

MLK7-AbedinThere was a wide range of volunteer activities offered this year, with both on-campus and off-campus options.

On-campus volunteering is a relatively new development for the Day of Service, added just last year. This year, the on-campus portion was expanded to include six different clubs: Glamour Gals, American Medical Students Association (AMSA), Sustainable Lawrence University Gardens (SLUG), Magpie and Printmaking Club, National Alliance of Mental Illness and WhoKnits. Along with this expansion, a new addition was made to the on-campus volunteering, which allowed the on-campus volunteers to rotate between clubs.

This was the first year AMSA participated in the Day of Service. “This was a big volunteer opportunity for us and we were eager to be a part of it,” junior and president of AMSA Sarah Gunby said. AMSA had volunteers make paper cranes, paper snowflakes and cards for the admitted patients at Appleton’s St. Elizabeth Hospital.

Many on-campus groups also used this volunteer time to recruit more students to their groups. “This is a good opportunity to do a variety of activities and get more people helping out and informed,” Gunby said.

The off-campus opportunities were numerous and included: Bethesda Thrift Shop, Boys and Girls Club, CHAPS Academy, the Fox Valley Humane Associaton, the Fox Valley Warming Shelter, Hearthstone Historic House Museum and Riverview Gardens.

At the Boys and Girls Club, four Lawrence organizations coordinated activities with other volunteers to teach to the children there. The Lawrence baseball team ran sports activities, Melee taught dance, Symphonia taught music, and Art House made arts and crafts. “It was really neat to see our students teach and lead really engaging activities,” Director of Volunteer and Community Service Programs Kristi Hill said.

The Day of Service tradition began after it was decided that students should have MLK Day off of school. This was a campus-wide decision that occurred some years ago. According to Hill, the student turnout for the volunteer activities has only increased as the years have passed.

This year, 370 Lawrentians signed up to volunteer on Day of Service. The exact number of students who actually volunteered is yet to be determined, since an estimated 130 students did not show up while other students participated without registering prior to the day.

During registration, off-campus volunteering was full. On the Day of Service, however, there were students who didn’t show up. This caused some non-profits to receive fewer volunteers than expected.

Despite the students who didn’t attend, the turnout this year, according to Hill, was very good, with more students volunteering than were originally expected. Day of Service was created to give both students who do and don’t usually volunteer the opportunity to do so without the obstacles of classes or a lack of transportation.

About half of Lawrence students volunteer at least once every year. This is above the national average, which is about one-third.

“Our students are incredibly interested in their friends, neighbors and community,” Hill said. “I think Day of Service speaks volumes about our student body and their concern for their community.”