Students spend MLK holiday in 'Day of Service'

January 23 2008

Students from four area colleges pitched in to carry on Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream Monday (Jan. 21) by participating in a “Day of Service” hosted by Indiana State University.

Co-sponsored by Ivy Tech Community College, St. Mary-of-the-Woods College and Indiana Business College, along with ISU’s Center for Public Service and Community Engagement, the event drew approximately 140 participants, with more than 100 of them representing Indiana State, according to Crystal Brown, an ISU graduate student who served as co-organizer of the event.

Carolyn Burns, assistant professor of nursing at ISU, spoke to participants at a kick-off luncheon, reminding them that through their community involvement and service they were carrying on King’s dream, nearly 40 years after his death.

“We are the dream,” the student volunteers chanted, with Burns leading them in an enthusiastic awareness of the day’s meaning.

With hopes high and hearts full, volunteers were then sent to spend a day of service at 13 local charities and agencies. They assisted with tasks of organizing, cleaning, inventorying and other projects that would otherwise be challenging for the limited staff available at the organizations.

Agencies such as Ryves Youth Center at Etling Hall and Catholic Charities Food Bank also had participants in educational roles. Diversity quilts and friendship trains helped demonstrate King’s goals and values. Volunteers prepared literacy kits for small children at the Success By 6 organization. Others at Lifeline prepared and distributed materials for Terre Haute’s 211 information and referral telephone service.

Tess Jacks was more than thankful to have volunteers spend the day at the Children’s Museum of Terre Haute.

“With us breaking ground in early December, and with the brick (sale fundraising) program going on, we really have a lot going on,” Jacks said.

The day of service in honor of King allowed the Children’s Museum to organize community donations that have been pouring in lately.

“The volunteers are amazing; they don’t grump or groan, they just say, ‘Sure, let’s go!’” Jacks said.

Sean Barry, a sophomore aerospace administration major at Indiana State, chose to do his day of service at the Children’s Museum, where he also serves via the AmeriCorps program.

“I work on exhibits here and enjoy being more hands on versus everyday paperwork. Here I plan on making many exhibits that will be interactive, fun and educational for the new museum and for the children,” Barry said.

Stephanie Land, a masters degree of public administration student, chose the Wabash Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross for her day of service because “it goes so well with the Martin Luther King holiday and what he preached,” she said. “The American Red Cross helps people regardless of how much money they have, or what their politics are, what their religion is or what their race is.”

Ken Grissen, finance director at the Red Cross, worked with the volunteers.

“Any time we can work more efficiently we have that much more time to devote to services we offer. Today’s help means a lot, Grissen said.

Lindsay Zehren, a senior music education major at St. Mary-of-the Woods, said her involvement through ISU’s AmeriCorps program brought her out to participate in the day of service.

“It’s great to see so many people volunteer, especially college students (using) their day off to help others,” Zehren said. “It’s nice to make a difference.”

In addition to Ryves Youth Center, Success by 6, Red Cross, the Children’s Museum and Lifeline, other agencies that benefited from the Day of Service were Spectrum Industries, Happiness Bag, Lighthouse Mission, West Vigo Community Center, 14th and Chestnut Community Center, Bethany House and Indiana Teen Challenge.

Writer: Amanda Bedwell, media relations intern, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3773 or

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Story Highlights

Students from Indiana State University and three other area colleges took part in a "Day of Service," sponsored by the Center for Public Service and Community Engagement, honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

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