King Day is spent in service to others
BY SARA PLUMMER World Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
1/20/09 at 3:06 AM
CLAREMORE — Following President-elect Barack Obama's example, about 30 Rogers State University students and staff members spent Monday volunteering as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
Obama spent the day before his inauguration visiting wounded soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and painting walls at the Sasha Bruce House, a shelter for homeless teenagers in Washington, D.C.
Locally, RSU officials were among those who answered his call to serve as a way to honor the slain civil rights leader.
The day is an annual tradition for the school. This year, students could clean up the playground area at the campus Child Development Center; paint, stuff envelopes and fold brochures at a Big Brothers Big Sisters office; or play games and interact with residents at the Claremore Veterans Center.
"It's absolutely appropriate," said B.J. Armstrong, coordinator of student activities at RSU. "That's what Dr. King embodied. If we can all help each other, it would be a better world."
RSU freshman Charity Weigant raked leaves at the Child Development Center.
"It feels good to help," she said. "It needs to be celebrated as more than just a three-day weekend."
Jessica Wilbourn, area director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma-Rogers County, said she remembers that the day of service started when she attended RSU.
"I'm so excited they're still doing it," she said. "That's what this day should be about — celebrating his (King's) life."
About 10 RSU students spent Monday morning stuffing envelopes, painting the center's porch and folding brochures, things the office's two staff members sometimes can't find time to do.
The day of service was a great opportunity to learn about King and his vision, said Misty Smith, director of student development.
"He was about serving his community, his country," she said. "It's great for students to be exposed to volunteering."
Jessica Heavin, who works in the Student Affairs Department at RSU, coordinated the volunteers at the Child Development Center.
"I think it's a great idea, to tie in connecting to the community with remembering Martin Luther King," Heavin said.
"I think the turnout was great. The kids were great. None of them were complaining about the wind or the cold."
Smith said this was the first year she has coordinated the day of service and didn't know what to expect.
"I was very pleased," she said. "We're going to get bigger next year. More volunteers and more going on."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Congress passed a
resolution in 1994 urging
that Martin Luther King Jr.
Day become a national day
of service. The Corporation
for National and Community
Service led the e=ort.
More than 12,000
service projects were
Participation has grown
every year but was expected
to mushroom this
year after President-elect
Barack Obama’s national
call to service.
Sara Plummer 581-8465
Martin Luther King Jr.
Kelsey Roming (left), a freshman at Rogers State University, plays Yahtzee with Grace Bradley at the Veterans Center in Claremore as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. SARA PLUMMER/Tulsa World
Charity Weigant, a freshman at Rogers State University, bags leaves at the school's Child Development Center as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. SARA PLUMMER/Tulsa World