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Area students make January 21 a day of service
Kesha Williams
January 29, 2013

MLK Day Organizers of the recent Martin Luther King commemorative march say they were pleased to see students from each of the local institutions of higher learning participate in the Jan. 21 event.

This year, the itinerary included the annual march from the university’s G. R. Little Library to Sheep Harney Elementary School’s auditorium for an assembly, broadcasts of the inauguration of the president of the United States followed by volunteer service at 13 local sites. Instead of featuring a keynote speaker, organizers welcomed three local students to the podium. Joshua Finney from Elizabeth City State University, Demetrius Stokley from Mid-Atlantic Christian University and Travis Hunter from College of the Albemarle delivered a brief speech. Elected officials joined administrators from the three institutions of higher learning, the local school system superintendent and the local president of the NAACP to give greetings to the audience at the elementary school.

As part of the volunteer service programs, approximately 118 volunteers packed food for residents of Haiti at Mid-Atlantic Christian University. About 164 community and student volunteers were busy helping area nonprofit agencies. AMEN Ministries welcomed volunteers who completed pressure washing, minor repairs and yard improvement projects at six area homes. Other volunteers sorted and hung clothes at Hopeline’s Clothesline Thrift Store. Volunteers completed simple landscape projects, raking and mulching at Central Elementary School. At Girls Inc., volunteers painted picnic tables and wagons; organized a shed; cleaned the building’s interior; and packed gift bags for an upcoming event. Fort Branch Confederate Earthen Fort Civil War Site near Hamilton, N.C., was another volunteer site.

Darrien Jerman, coordinator of Student Leadership Development and Multicultural Affairs, said he and other organizers were encouraged by the efforts of area youths and students on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

“All of the volunteering was completed on Monday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. While we actively recruited participants from our student organizations, residents from the community also came to our volunteer sites,” he said.

“Participants selected the sites where they would volunteer. We listed the volunteer sites on the website and they were announced at the end of the assembly,” he said.

This marks the sixth year the three institutions have collaborated of a day of community service. Jerman said the organizers and volunteers were happy to help as many schools and nonprofit agencies as possible. He said organizers look forward to seeing more volunteers from all three institutions and the community next year.

“We wanted to expound on our theme of unity. We tried to plan something for everyone. People have their preferences for the march, attending the annual assembly or simply volunteering. Most of all we wanted it to be a day on and not simply a day off. Dr. King’s messages of unity and community service are messages the entire community can appreciate.”

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