Instead of enjoying a day off from classes, hundreds of Bowling Green State University students dedicated their Monday afternoon to community service to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The cold and snow flurries didn’t deter the 800 students, faculty, and staff members who volunteered with 45 community partners across northwest Ohio for BGSU’s 10th consecutive MLK Day of Service.
“It’s always a lot of fun to come out and help other people,” said BGSU senior Tony Carlen. “It’s a better use of my time to be out volunteering than just sitting around doing nothing.”
WATCH: MLK Day of Service
Mr. Carlen was one of the 80 students that volunteered at Nightingale Harvest food pantry, a family pantry and resource center that serves cancer patients in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.
The pantry provides nutritious food, hygiene products, and resources to assist in improving the health and wellness of families experiencing cancer.
The students helped organize the food pantry, sort and organize coupons, install ceiling tiles, and scrub the floor.
“It was important for me to figure out ways to do community service, especially on Dr. King’s birthday,” said BGSU freshman Morgan Thompson as she washed dishes.
Pantry founder Lisa Kronbach-Eisenbach said having the BGSU students volunteer gives the pantry a significant boost in fulfilling its mission of helping as many cancer patients as possible.
“This is huge. If I could have this once a week I would be in heaven,” she said.
The pantry has served about 4,000 families since it opened, including roughly 800 now.
Mr. Carlen said it is particularly special for him to volunteer at Nightingales Harvest and help families impacted by cancer.
“It’s an excellent program and something that I feel really strongly about because cancer has affected my family, so it’s really nice to give back,” he said.
BGSU’s MLK Day of Service has experienced exponential growth in participation since it started 10 years ago.
There were only 50 volunteers from the university in 2008, said Paul Valdez, the associate director at BGSU’s Center for Community & Civic Engagement. This year about 800 volunteers participated.
Projects took place between noon and 4 p.m. Monday. Students worked in food banks, churches, homeless shelters, cleaned, and painted.
“This day of service is a testament to out students,” Mr. Valdez said. “They want to serve, and this couldn’t happen without them.”
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