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Westminster College Student-Athletes Honor MLK by Volunteering at Local Organizations

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Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2018

Not only does Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrate the famous activist’s legacy, MLK Day is usually celebrated with various acts of service conducted by organizations across the nation. Being that service is one of Westminster’s core values, it is no surprise that approximately 150 student-athletes and faculty/staff came together to volunteer at local organizations to honor Dr. King.

Westminster’s Day of Service was coordinated thanks to a joint effort between the Office of Faith and Spirituality, Office of Diversity & Inclusion and the athletics department. The day began with an honorary breakfast featuring guest speaker Rev. Dr. James Henderson Harris, Sr., pastor of the St. James AMEC in Pittsburgh. Soon after, the volunteers left for their assignments.

Campus ministry fellow Stephanie Lehman was responsible for coordinating the “Day of Service” and building relationships with local organizations. Lehman was able to send volunteers to 17 different organizations in Western PA and North-Eastern Ohio including the Salvation Army (Sharon & Grove City), the Rescue Mission, Crisis Shelter of Law. Co. and Children’s Advocacy Center to name a few.

“As the service learning and civic engagement coordinator on campus, it made sense for me to be the person reaching out and building relationships with our local organizations and agencies,” said Lehman. “I hope our student volunteers were challenged and enlightened by their experiences on MLK day.”

The volunteers spent the day completing different tasks ranging from delivering meals to painting classrooms to sorting donated goods. While some of the work was may have menial, leaders of the different organizations reported that the work completed by the volunteers was incredibly helpful.

Now that the Day of Service is complete, the next step for the chapel office is to evaluate the effectiveness of the overall experience for students and the local organizations. The goal is to build lasting relationships with the organizations to increase the likelihood of future partnerships.

“I certainly hope that the [Day of Service] is something we continue to do in the future,” added Lehman. “Learning about and supporting organizations and agencies in our local area is imperative in creating a strong community where everyone has the opportunity to be successful.”