A Day of Service: 600 Pitt Students Volunteer to Honor Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Issue Date: 
January 27, 2014

EarlyFood Bank on Monday, Jan. 20—the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service—more than 600 University of Pittsburgh students boarded buses to travel to one of 20 service projects across the broader Pittsburgh community.

Some students visited the Southwestern Veterans Center, an assisted living facility in Lincoln-Lemington. The volunteers were given Martin Luther King Jr. fact sheets to help spur conversations with residents. 

Other students traveled to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank in Duquesne. They sorted canned goods and prepared boxes of food and toiletries, which are offered monthly to Food Bank customers. Across the Monongahela River in Braddock, about 40 Pitt students cleaned and organized supplies within the Nyia Page Braddock Community Center and a children’s activity room across the street in the Braddock Carnegie Library.

TheLibrary buses returned to the William Pitt Union around 2:30 p.m., and, as the students ate pizza in the Assembly Room, Ballroom, and Kurtzman Room, they found written prompts on their tables, encouraging discussion about service.

“This year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service included an intentional reflection activity following the event to facilitate discussion and help students understand the impact of their service on the community and themselves,” said Kenyon Bonner, Pitt’s associate dean of students and director of student life.

Bonner added that organizers focused on trying to arrange indoor-service projects involving one-on-one interaction with people in the community. While not all of this year’s projects followed that model, students have expressed to organizers their preference to work directly with community residents on service projects when possible.

ToLibrary what does Bonner attribute students’ willingness to get up and out early on a holiday? “Pitt students are incredibly conscious of the effect they can have on the community. In addition to our service student organizations, many of our students have been engaged in service since high school or want to serve during their time at Pitt. I believe their participation exemplifies the tremendous selflessness that our students possess and their understanding of the value the University places on service.”

His beliefs were echoed by John Wilds, assistant vice chancellor for community relations, who said, “What the students did is consistent with what we are attempting to do at the University, which is maximizing student involvement in the community.”

Pitt students enjoy a light-hearted moment in the midst of cleaning and scrubbing a children’s activity room in the Braddock Carnegie Library.