Centre College’s Diversity & Inclusion office hosted a day of service projects for the campus community on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
“When I interviewed for this job in August, I outlined an elaborate plan for a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of service project; they had never had one before, and in Centre’s bicentennial year, I knew we had to start now,” said Ashley Oliver, director of diversity & inclusion programming. “I wanted to focus on the community outside of Dr. King—those who led next to him like Ella Baker, Fred Shuttlesworth and Hosea Williams—and the issues that mattered to them like hunger and food insecurity, housing and education disparities.”
Over 50 volunteers gathered to serve at four different locations in the Danville area.
One of the sites, Soup’s on Us, is a weekend food ministry sponsored by local churches. The churches are responsible for providing meals for more than 300 Danville residents every Saturday. Volunteers make the boxes, prepare meals, pack the boxes and deliver them around the city.
A site created by Hope Network, Shepherd’s House and the Agency for Substance Abuse Policy partnered to build “Blessing Boxes” or “Little Free Pantries” to place around town. These are essentially public cabinets for individuals to donate food and other items and also take what they need.
Blue Bird Market, a non-profit organization that sells second-hand treasures, uses its proceeds to support therapies and pre-school education for children from birth to age five at the Wilderness Trace Child Development Center. Participants at the site helped set-up and organize the items in the market, clean and dust the store, refresh the paint in some areas and price the items.
Those who volunteered with New Hope Food Pantry helped collect food from Kroger. The organization created fliers listing foods that were needed. Students distributed these fliers to customers entering the store and invited them to buy an extra can or box of food to donate on their way out.
“The community noticed and appreciated our presence immediately, which was encouraging,” Oliver said. “Being prayed over at the soup kitchen, being posted on the Blue Bird page, hauling entire carts of donated goods at Kroger, and being moved to tears by the tales of folks overcoming addiction was all overwhelming and affirming.
“Hearing my student site-leaders challenge inclusivity on campus and how we can be better community partners moved me,” she continued. “Even our College’s president and his wife were building homes and stayed to finish after the students left. The dedication to community and the commitment to the work by all humbled me.”
by Kerry Steinhofer
February 1, 2019