Students celebrate MLK Day with service

Robert Houk • Updated Jan 21, 2019 at 8:51 PM

Monday was a day off from work or school for many Americans. That was not the case for more than 90 students from East Tennessee State University, who observed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day by engaging in community service.

Students and university staffers fanned out across the region to lend a hand to local service agencies and community programs, including Second Harvest Food Bank, Girls on the Run of Northeast Tennessee and Appalachia Service Project. ETSU President Brian Noland joined students and administrators from the university’s Multicultural Affairs program to help facilitate MLK activities at Johnson City’s Carver Recreation Center, 322 W. Watauga Ave.

Noland said ETSU students were “carrying on” King’s mission by being involved in community service. He said the MLK Day of Service allows students to partner with officials from crucial community agencies.

“Students have a chance to live Martin Luther King’s dream by being in places where people are facing challenges on a daily basis,” Noland said.

Tamara Foster, the program coordinator for Carver Recreation, said “more than 20 ETSU students” assisted her staff in providing activities for 60 children who had signed up for MLK Day. She said those activities included a drum circle, arts and crafts and storytelling.

Brook’ale Anderson, an ETSU junior from Oak Ridge, interacted with a table of children during an arts and crafts session at the Johnson City facility. Anderson, who serves as vice president of the university’s Black Affairs Association, said Monday marked the third year she has volunteered for the MLK Day of Service at Carver Recreation.

“It’s my way of giving back to this community,” she said. “I love it.”

ETSU graduate student Caitlyn Powers joined eight others from the university’s Alternative Breaks program Monday in painting restrooms and a kitchen at the Rise Up! building, located at 1500 E. Millard St. in Johnson City. Powers said Alternative Breaks participants learn about a variety of social issues, such as criminal justice reform, human trafficking and poverty by visiting places like Atlanta, Chicago and New Orleans during academic breaks.

“I’m really excited to be here,” Powers said of her painting job at Rise Up!, an after school and K-12 mentoring program. “This is my first time volunteering for MLK Day.”

Karisa White, volunteer services project coordinator for Rise Up!, said the nonprofit organization “really appreciates” having students and other volunteers helping out on their days off.

“It’s a very big deal for us,” White said.


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