Students honor MLK through day of service

Maggie Eubanks, News Editor

Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated his life to advocating for civil rights and serving the communities of the U.S. Since his death in 1968, people have gathered to honor his legacy by dedicating a day of service in his name.

Though Congress designated MLK Day a national “Day of Service” in 1986, the movement has only gained traction on the Bayou in recent years. This year, ULM students met at the Activity Center for a project aimed at helping the Salvation Army.

Students had the option of donating clothes, food or sanitary items to the Salvation Army. Then each donation was sorted and packed into boxes to be taken to the Salvation Army. Each student who participated received a shirt to commemorate the day and the partnership with the Monroe community.

Pamela Saulsberry, director of the ULM Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, organized the project for students the past few years. Saulsberry believed the Salvation Army was a great choice for the MLK Day of Service because of the need for donations after the holiday season.

“Each year, the goal is to provide an opportunity to make the community better,” Saulsberry said. “The Salvation Army does that all year round, but we knew with the holiday season ending that their resources were deplenished.” Helping the community in this way is central to the mission of the MLK Day of Service. According to AmeriCorps, the MLK Day of Service is the only national holiday in the U.S. dedicated as a day of service. The goal is to engage with the community by acting on King’s legacy of social justice. Students on the Bayou helped ULM meet these goals with their donations and service.

Saulsberry also said her “heart leaps up” at the number of students that were willing to give up their day off school to come serve. She sees MLK Day as “a day on, not a day off.”

Many of the students said they enjoyed the project and shared in Saulsberry’s joy about the turnout.

“We had a lot more people come out,” graduate student and member of Alpha Kappa Psi Adrian Harris said. “When we do stuff like this, it makes it seem like the campus cares about the community that we’re in.” Harris, like many of the volunteers, served with his fraternity. Greek Life at ULM made sure to show up to support Monroe during the day of service. Alivia Simmons, a senior health studies major, emphasized how crucial it is for ULM to serve the Monroe community.

“The community surrounds our campus,” Simmons said. “If the community’s not happy, not safe, not provided for, campus won’t be as safe, so it kind of goes hand in hand.” Though Warhawks who donated during the service project may not realize the impact they had on those in need, Saulsberry said she believes these small items can be life-changing.

“[Students] don’t think these small items they have an abundance of can make such a difference in someone’s life, but it absolutely can,” Saulsberry said.