Successful MLK Day of Service for Students, Non-Profits

Since 1986, the third Monday in January has been a federal holiday to acknowledge the work and January 15 birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1994, Congress designated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a national day of service, the only such day on the American calendar.

According to King, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'” In the spirit of this fundamental question, people around the country made the day of service “a day on, not

a day off,” and worked together to do good. Colgate was

no exception.

Over 150 Colgate students signed up to participate in the Martin Luther King, Jr. afternoon of service following classes on Friday, January 24. Organized through the Max A. Shacknai Center for Outreach, Volunteerism and Education (COVE), these students represented the largest Colgate group to participate in the event in recent years. The signature Colgate vans arrived at 12 local organizations in the region including Johnson Park Center, Chenango Canal Association, Madison Lane Apartments and the Hamilton Center for the Arts. The various sites

ranged from nursing homes and hospitals to environmental groups and art galleries.

While it is difficult to quantify the impact these Colgate students made, in just one afternoon they contributed as many as 600 volunteer hours. According to, that translates to about $13,000 in hourly wage savings for these organizations. Aside from saving these organizations money and manpower, students certainly felt appreciated.

Sophomore Helen Jatho was a student volunteer at the Madison Historical Society.

“I think the best part was seeing the Madison Historical Society’s amazed reactions to our work. They were so happy to have us there and were extremely grateful for our help,” Jatho said.

The day of service also allowed students to get off campus and explore attractions that they otherwise may have never discovered. First-year Amy

Balmuth helped prepare an art

gallery at the Earlville Opera House. Located in the Village of Earlville, a short drive from Colgate, the historical 1890 opera house is still in use and houses a full slate of shows in the summer as well as art

exhibitions year-round.

“It was rewarding to find a hidden gem near Colgate at the Earlville Opera House,”

Balmuth said.

In addition to discovering sites such as the Earlville Opera House, students were also able to learn about the history of Colgate and the surrounding region. For example, in the 1970s, the opera house was slated to be demolished to make room for a parking lot. A Colgate student living off campus in Earlville, however, fell in love with the historic theater and bought and donated it.

“It was great, as a Colgate student, to volunteer at a place that was saved by a Colgate student so long ago,” sophomore Sara Reese said.

While just a small piece of a national event, Colgate’s 2014 Martin Luther King, Jr. afternoon of service was a huge success. Students were able to honor Dr. King’s legacy and give back and learn more about their Central New York home.

Contact Jared Goldsmith at [email protected]