By Abigail Shields
New Albany, Ind. – With campus closed for the January 16 holiday, IU Southeast students gathered at various locations around southern Indiana and Louisville, to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by serving others in the community.
“Giving back to other organizations who give to us is important,” said Jani Henderson, campus organizer of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. “Our community gives so much to all the organizations here (on campus) and it is important to have a day of service to help others. It is something that IUS has done for several years,” she said. This was Henderson’s first time organizing the day of service.
IU Southeast student volunteers had their choice of five organizations to donate time and talent including The Mustard Seed thrift store, Our Place Drug & Alcohol Education Services, Harbor House Disability Services, and Autumn Woods Health Campus as well as on campus, helping with stocking the food pantry and cleaning in the facilities operations department.
Andrew Roy helped the maintenance staff clean two of the maintenance rooms in University Center at IU Southeast and move light furniture. When questioned on what he hoped to gain from the experience, he stated, “Just the satisfaction of showing others that we care about our community and want to give back to them.”
Kenna Uhl, representing Phi Sigma Sigma sorority, helped reorganize the IU Southeast food pantry. She helped by organizing clothes, cleaning out food containers, and throwing away outdated food. “It was just an eye opener with the grab and go; just how much we do have on campus and how much it does help those on campus,” Uhl said.
When asked how the volunteers benefit facility operations, Matt Pendleton, assistant director of facility operations, said, “The biggest takeaway today is seeing the student involvement here on campus, volunteering time on MLK Day. They (volunteers) helped us by tidying up all our mechanical spaces.”
Among the list of locations students visited was The Mustard Seed, an organization that strives to be a resource for those who have been victims of sexual abuse. Students cleaned restrooms and sorted items. Kara Wright, who was representing Christian Student Fellowship, said, “Our goal this year has been to go out into the community, and how we can help those who don’t know the love of God,” said Wright. “Serving in the community is a tangible way to do that, even if it is just a small word that we say to brighten their day,” she said.
Students also visited Autumn Woods and Our Place. At Autumn Woods students connected with residents by having conversations with them. At Our Place, students assisted staff with sweeping and organizing files.
When asked what Henderson gained from talking to students about their experience, she stated “They (students) were happy to take a break from their schedule to help make an impact on the community.”
Abigail Shields is a freshman from Salem, Indiana who is studying journalism, media and strategic communications. She is a student worker in the Office of Marketing & Communications.