Indiana State University Newsroom

Students volunteer around Terre Haute for MLK Day of Service

January 24, 2014

Students at Indiana State University utilized their day off Monday to help volunteer around the community of Terre Haute for the Martin Luther King Jr.Day of Service.

Rachel Parsons, a junior social work major, spent her day playing basketball at the Boys and Girls Club with children ages from 5-10 and found that they were very entertaining.

"It [gave] me an opportunity to work with kids and I'm sure a lot of these children['s] families are probably at work and that's why they're here," she said. "I really would like to help kids in that situation and ... make sure parents [bring them to the Boys and Girls Club] so they have child care for their kids while they're working."

Parsons found that she served as a role model to the children and that she had a more rewarding experience volunteering around children than she initially expected.

"There have been a few who have come up to us and ask if we go to ISU and have said that they want to go there too, so I feel like they're looking up to us [and] I feel like I'm setting a good example," she said.

"[Today is] just really for students to give back to the community," said Jennifer Christian, a staff member in the Center for community Engagement who has helped plan the event for the past two years. "[It is] for them to understand that service is really a part of Indiana State University and that it's important to us... it's also important to reflect on what Martin Luther King Jr. did back then and what he has done for our students now."

Nearly 400 students volunteered throughout the community at 20 locations. According to Christian, the number of volunteers increased by about 100 students compared to last year.

Brandon Harris, a junior management major and AmeriCorps member, spent the afternoon at Greenwood Manor handing out fire safety and emergency procedure information for the American Red Cross and educating the senior living facility's residents about what to do in emergencies.

"I believe that everyone should go out and serve on MLK Day because Martin Luther King Jr. was a great Civil Rights Leader and was a great Servant Leader to his community and the country by being standing up for people's rights and believing in equality," he said. Every year I always make MLK Day a day I try to go out and serve in the community because of the change he wanted to see in America and being a role model to others to show that community service ... makes an impact on someone's life."

Audrey Nelson, a junior public relations major and public health minor, helped organize closet spaces at Ryves Youth Center at Etling Hall. She tied in her experience volunteering to the accomplishments King wanted to see within his own community.

"Martin Luther King did want everyone to be equal and feel equal and these children here who go to this facility don't really feel that equality," Nelson said.Nelson was impacted by those who volunteer at Ryves and was glad she could do her part.

"I just felt inspired in the sense that these people don't come to work every day looking for a big paycheck," Nelson said. "They come here instead to help out those kids that are in need, that are voiceless, and can't speak for themselves...They come here out of respect towards the community that surrounds them."

Students throughout the day were aware of the contribution they were making to their own community and found the program worthwhile.

"I think [the MLK day of service] is very important because it shows that ISU and everyone who goes there can support the community," Parsons said. "I think [it's a good program] because it gives an experience for the students to understand what community service is."

Photo: - Vanessa Whistler, a freshman special education major at Indiana State University, helps Jamarie Bryant, a pre-schooler at Ryves Youth Center, learn colors during Martin Luther King Jr. day of Service Jan. 20, 2014. (ISU/Rachel Keyes)

Photo: - Mackenzie Carpenter, spent part of her day off from classes at Indiana State University by volunteering at the Catholic Charities Food Bank Jan. 20, 2014 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. (ISU/Rachel Keyes)

Photo:!/i-S9Tqmmw/A - Indiana State University's Martin Luther King Day of Service on Jan. 20, 2014 wasn't limited to students. Beth Sabelhous, an Indiana State graduate and an AmeriCorps member, volunteered at Ryves Youth Center at Etling Hall. (ISU/Rachel Keyes)

Contact: Jennifer Christian, AmeriCorps Program coordinator, Center for Community Engagement, Indiana State University, 812-237-7900 or

Writer: Sadie All, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or