January 28, 2020

Students help the community at the MLK Day of Service

ELSB volunteer

By Zoe Watkins–

This past Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. day, and while many people spent it as a three-day weekend, many others spent it celebrating the dream of the leader of the civil rights movement.

The Engage Lead Serve Board (ELSB) held their annual MLK Day of Service in Schneider Hall. Seniors Alex Elias and Alisha Deshmukh, directors of Training and Leadership, organized the event.

The event has been around since 1994 where students come together to give back to the community through the organizations that attended the event.

“Today is a service event for Martin Luther King Day. A lot of time, people just take it as a day off and just added to it, but we believe it should be a day on because his legacy speaks towards helping others and service. We want to encourage that in our students,” Deshmukh said.

Even though the MLK Day of Service has not been around for long, the event has drastically changed over the decades.

“I think over the years it has gotten bigger. We’ve just been adding more and more service sites and more opportunities. I’d say its kind of grown and its impact has spread. We’ve had members of the community coming out,” Deshmukh said.

There was also free food and t-shirts provided to volunteers along with guest speaker Adria Johnson, from the Metro United Way, who held a speech before students and community members boarded the buses to go to their respective sites.

Even with the day being cold and snowy, it didn’t stop students from volunteering that day.

SGA Services Vice President Lydia Burns has attended the event all throughout her college career and decided to help at the Cardinal Cupboard this year.

“I think that the MLK Day of Service is a great way to get out of your dorm, normally on a cold Monday, but just a way to celebrate the spirit of MLK. Thinking about how we get this day off, but it’s not necessarily for ourselves. It’s to celebrate MLK and all the awesome things he did, and I think there’s not better way to do that than to serve our community,” Burns said.

In the past, Burns, now a senior, has volunteered at La Cacina and the Garden Commons.

“I think that it is awesome that U of L has these opportunities for the community to come together and work for a common purpose and accomplish something that’s really good for the community not only for U of L,” Burns said. “Obviously it’s helpful to U of L to have this free labor, but it’s also for the community to see that U of L students care about their nonprofit organizations and they care about the work they do and they want to show their support.”

As for this year, there were many service sites including; Harbor House, U of L composting, the Food Literacy Project, and Americana Word Community Center where students who attended the event could sign up to help. With many students joining in and volunteering, there was an equal amount of service sites for them to choose from.

One such site was the Louisville Dream Factory whose site leader is graduate student Samantha Lamar. The organization helps dreams become reality for kids who are chronically or critically ill and help them out with dealing with their illness in anyway possible.

Even though this was their first year at the MLK Day of Service, Lamar and the Louisville Dream Factory attended SOUL which was another volunteering event held by the ELSB last year in early August.

“Everyone’s been really excited to be here and it’s snowing outside, but people are still showing up to do service which I think is really awesome. I haven’t done MLK Day here, but I did do SOUL and U of L students are awesome and really like to do service, so I think it’s going really well,” Lamar said.

There are still many opportunities for students to serve around the community which can be found under the “Get Involved” webpage on the U of L website, or another event coming up like MLK Day of Service will be SOUL that will be happening next fall semester during welcoming week.

Photo by Anthony Riley//THE LOUISVILLE CARDINAL

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