Students honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy through service by volunteering at local organizations to improve the greater central New York community on Friday, January 25.
This volunteerism was part of the MLK 2019 Day of Service, organized by the Max A. Shacknai Center for Outreach, Volunteerism and Education (COVE).
Around 65 volunteers participated in the Afternoon of Service at seven different volunteer sites, senior COVE intern Gaby Bianchi said.
One of the volunteer sites was Rescue Mission in Utica, founded in 1890 with the goal of helping people overcome struggles with abuse, addiction, disabilities and homelessness through faith and ministry. The organization boasts many different services, such as an emergency men’s shelter, a food pantry, clothing room, addiction stabilization center and apartments. Rescue Mission also offers non- emergency housing, counseling, career training, assistance managing money and an education center to ensure that residents earn their High School Equivalency diploma.
Ten Colgate students became well acquainted with the clothing room, as they were tasked with sorting bags full of clothing donations. Rescue Mission’s clothing room is covered with clothing neatly hung for community members to easily find the clothes they want, rather than a pile of clothes, which can be difficult to sift through.
Latiqua Darby has volunteered at the clothing room by sorting and hanging up clothes for jus ta few weeks, but said she has already found the experience to be meaningful and plans to stay and volunteer with Rescue Mission for a while. Darby said that she loves meeting the other volunteers who come in.
Another volunteer, Crystal Booker, echoed the sentiment that having help from volunteers is nice.
“Sometimes it’s alright to have a hand come around when times get hard. I would recommend it to a lot of people. It’s a good place, especially if you’re in need or you have children who are in need or you know people in need,” Booker said.
While Rescue Mission was happy to have more hands available due to its recent spike in donations, the Colgate students also enjoyed the experience.
Sophomore Bailey Applebaum, a COVE team leader for Ophelia’s Girls, led the group and found it to be rewarding. She said originally she was a little worried about the work.
“Sometimes going into an organization with a big group just for one day, you can feel like you’re fulfilling a white savior complex, but we were all interacting with the people working there,” Applebaum said.
Booker and Darby played music, discussed funny outfits, and looked at clothes, letting the student volunteers in on their fun.
“We all hung out together; it wasn’t like we were coming in to do them a favor,” Applebaum said.
Applebaum said all the volunteers were ready to contribute with active participation, understanding their work’s importance.
“No one was standing around and that’s probably something you get because everyone had signed up on their own,” Applebaum said. “Everyone was really excited to work and get their hands dirty.”
Other volunteers had the opportunity to work with Friends of Rogers, a nonprofit that works to educate about the environment through school programs, events and exhibits. Another site for volunteers was Community Bikes, where students moved and cleaned bikes to be donated to low income families.
Some volunteers did maintenance work, like students at the Morrisville Community church who cleaned bathrooms and students who sorted materials at the Hamilton Center for the Arts. Students at Earlville Opera House painted galleries for the organization which promotes arts in Colgate’s rural area.
On campus, student volunteers supported the COVE’s SAT prep program which prepares local high school students for the SAT and provides additional college counseling help.
Contact Haley Fuller at [email protected]