Marietta College Day of Service inspired by Dr. King
MARIETTA – Light snow was falling on the Marietta College campus Monday morning as hundreds of students made their way to the Dyson Baudo Recreation Center. No classes were scheduled, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but other duties beckoned.
The students were volunteer participants in the college’s second annual day of service, devoting the day to helping an array of community causes around the city. They ate a hot breakfast while listening to speakers discuss King’s legacy and what was in store for the day, and then they went to work.
Monica Jones, the associate dean of students and chief diversity officer, attended the registration table by the entrance to the center.
“We’ve got well over 500 people involved, students, faculty and staff,” she said. “In addition to individuals, we’ve tried to get teams, people who are used to working together.”
Sarah Rosenstock, an associate professor of graphic design, helped organize the group helping EVE Inc., the operator of the city’s domestic violence shelter.
“We’re making up boxes of toiletries for people who have had to suddenly leave their homes,” she said. “They run into situations they don’t expect, and don’t have time to pack anything.”
As the EVE volunteers packed the boxes, another group was assisting Go Packs executive director Heather Warner assemble food and necessities packages for children in the program. Warner said Go Packs had more than 100 children enrolled, its higher number ever. The Go Packs provide food for families in need, to be taken home on weekends and during school breaks by children who depend on the free breakfast and free or reduced-price lunches they get during school.
“It’s a big help,” Warner said as she watched the assembly line of volunteers. “There’s a lot of food to be moved.”
The morning’s work will pack all the nonperishable food needed for Go Packs to cover spring break and any snow days, she said. The program will add fresh food and create custom Go Packs for children with food allergies just before they are distributed, she said.
Other local groups who got help from the college included the Marietta Community Food Pantry and Friends of the Lower Muskingum River. Students composed handwritten letters on behalf of nonprofits with messages of encouragement to hospital patients, elders, veterans, active duty service members and others.
Off campus, teams of students and staff assisted Marietta Main Street, the Gospel Mission, Boys and Girls Club of Washington County, the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley, the Marietta Toy and Doll Museum, the Ohio Boys Wilderness Camp, the Peoples Bank Theatre and the Betsey Mills Club.
Sam Rojas, a junior and a member of the rowing crew, is from Bronx, N.Y.
“As a school day off, the point of the day was service to the community, and I’m out here to help,” he said as he helped assemble kits for EVE, Inc.
“I’m really passionate about social justice,” said Johannah James, a freshman from Folson, Calif., and another rowing crew member. A political science major, she said she intends to study law.
“This is great to see,” said Ashley Klopsenstein, a finance and public accounting senior from Cicero, Ind., as she composed a letter to legislators.
Freshman Lindy Brobeck, a member of the lacrosse team from Pickerington, shuttled between activities.
“It’s community service. I get concerned because so many kids don’t get to just be kids. I just helped make some cat toys out of T-shirts, there are so many things you can do here,” she said. “Martin Luther King helped open my eyes to other demographics, things I wouldn’t otherwise have been exposed to.”
Maribeth Saleem-Tanner, director of civic engagement for the college, said the intent of the day of service goes well beyond the day.
“It’s a great chance to bring in all these resources at once to help these groups, but we also hope students can make these connections, take this chance to network with the community,” she said.