Over 200 participate in UNA’s MLK Jr. Day event

Students, faculty and staff members and volunteers march from the Guillot University Center to the Baptist Campus Ministry center Jan. 18. The event included a service day project, march in memory of Martin Luther King Jr. and a special guest speaker the Rev. Alvelyn Sanders.

by News Editor Anna Beahm

The cold silence of a chilly Monday was broken with the soft singing and roaring cheers from campus.

The 2nd annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Service Day and March drew in over 200 students Jan. 18.

“We moved the march to Martin Luther King Jr. Day instead of the Friday before that weekend,” said Assistant Director of Student Engagement Bethany Green. “From what I’ve seen, we’ve had better participation in all of it. We doubled our numbers from last year.”

The students suggested adding a day of service to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day events last year.

Director of Diversity and Institutional Equity Joan Williams said she thinks it is important the university celebrate not only with an event in memory of Martin Luther King Jr., but also with a day of service.

“He also stood for service to mankind, so I think it’s important for our students to be involved with helping people,” she said.

The university used Numana Inc. for the service day project. Numana hosts food packaging service events then sends that food across the world to help feed the hungry and those in need.

Volunteers packaged bags of soy, rice, beans and dried vegetables, then sealed and boxed them, said freshman Amanda Schofield, who helped lead the event.

“I think volunteering is important because it shows how much we can give back,” she said.

Green said a list of meals people can make with the food is also included in the bags.

“This is basically a dried, base meal that can be paired with a lot of different things,” Green said.

Green said the goal was 150 students to participate, but student turnout exceeded their expectations.

Not only did they surpass the participation goal, they also surpassed the packaging goal.

The goal was to package 30,000 bags of food, but the volunteers packaged over 33,000 bags.

She also said the number of students who participated in the march also grew this year.

Not just students, but faculty, staff and other volunteers and community members participated in the event, Green said.

Freshman Peyton Sockwell said the entire baseball team and every coach came participated in the event.

“We always do different volunteer projects throughout the year,” Sockwell said.

Despite the sub-freezing temperatures, students, faculty, staff and community members marched from the Guillot University Center to the Baptist Campus Ministry center in memory and honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

As they marched, students sang the words, “we shall overcome,” casting a solemn mood over the whole group.

Senior Tiffany McDaniel said she participated in the march last year, but she worked with Alpha Kappa Alpha to document the march this year.

After the march, students enjoyed a free lunch and guest speaker, Rev. Alvelyn Sanders at the BCM. Sanders helped produce the film, “Foot Soldiers: Class of 1964.” She is also the pastor of Greater St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in Florence.

“I enjoyed it very much,” said senior Danielle Stokes. “I left the events inspired.”