The Community Engagement Office and Mavs in Action hosted the annual MLK Day of Service in the Centennial Student Union Monday which included various projects for local organizations.
Some of the projects from the event included dog toys for the Blue Earth Nicollet County Humane Society (BENCHS) and tie blankets for the Connections Shelter.
“Even though we can’t make a big difference in just one day, we can still do these little projects that each make a little impact in the community,” said Mavs in Action Vice President Jacob Rangitsch. “This is a great day for anybody in the community to just come and do something, service-wise, on this day off where a lot of things aren’t open. It’s a good day to just come together and do some service.”
The event was open to students and members of the community. Although many attendees were members of the Community Engagement Office subset, Mavs in Action, there were also some students who chose to volunteer on their day off from classes.
Joe Roeser and Carson Davis are members of Sigma Nu Fraternity with Rangitsch. They were both creating Valentine’s Day cards for senior citizens with markers and colored paper.
“I’m trying to channel my inner artist in me and try my best to make these look nice,” Roeser said. “It’s easy enough for me and it’s a great cause. I enjoy being here.”
“I got here and looked around and I saw there were not many people doing the cards so I just kind of tried to fill in where there was help needed,” Davis said. “I’m studying accounting, I have zero creativity, so I was trying to ask, ‘Are there any requirements for these?’ and they were like ‘No, just go at it’.”
One of the higher-skilled projects was knitting scarves for a local church, which Mavs in Action Service Secretary Isabella Pearson participated in since she learned to knit from Anderson. This is her second year as a member of Mavs in Action.
“I had done a little bit of volunteering before Mavs in Action but not much, so once I got more into it with Mavs in Action, I decided I really liked it and I wanted to continue,” she said. “There are a lot of different projects we have out here that we are going to do.”
Community Engagement Office Assistant Director Karen Anderson helped oversee the student-organized event and distributed the creations to the local organizations. Many of the projects roll over into the next year’s event with some new depending on new ideas and weather and time limitations.
“Projects are based on what we can do inside in less than three hours,” said Anderson.
She said honoring the late Martin Luther King Jr. through acts of community service is an opportunity “to make a difference in the situations you are in,” when seeing an injustice.
Around 2011 she attended a knitting conference in Illinois where she witnessed a Black woman being ignored by one of the instructors while other, non-Black attendees were helped and given materials and instructions.
“We were learning how to do a new quilting technique and she was in front of me, but for some reason the person who was giving away the samples to work on was not giving her anything. I’m like ‘What is wrong here, what’s going on? She was here first, give it to her,’ but she wouldn’t even acknowledge her. I’m like ‘Are you kidding? It’s 2011 and that still goes on that blatantly?’ I was flabbergasted. So as soon as I got something I turned to her and said, ‘Here, I’m happy to help you. If you want to walk through this together, I’m happy to work with you together,’ and she said, ‘This sort of thing still goes on all the time,’” Anderson said.
Anderson said doing acts of service for one’s community is often the most attainable way for a person to begin to make an impact.
“The King holiday was really designated to be a day of service, but what can you do in one day that is really going to make a big impact? I’m not sure we’ll be able to change voter rights laws or that we’ll be able to make equity in the world in addressing racism. But little projects like this do make a difference in the community. It is really all those things adding up together that makes a big difference.”
Header photo: MLK Day of Service was hosted in MavAve on Monday, allowing students to participate in a number of community service projects. (Dominic Bothe/The Reporter)
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