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Hundreds honor Martin Luther King Jr. through community service

Karissa Lam / Asst. multimedia editor

More than 700 Ohio State students, faculty and staff used their day off Monday to serve the community in the 10th annual MLK Day of Service.

The Students Engaged in Responsible Volunteering, or SERV, Team coordinated the day of service as an opportunity for students to give back to the Greater Columbus area.

The MLK Day of Service featured 41 service sites throughout Columbus.

“They go out to lead, they go out to serve, they go out to remember the legacy of what Dr. King presented forth,” said Larry Williamson, director at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and speaker at the event.

At 8 a.m., volunteers filed into the Ohio Union’s Archie Griffin Ballroom and received an event T-shirt. Jones, a fourth-year in international studies and English and SERV Team member, said in an effort to “go green,” all volunteers were given a reusable water bottle.

Maggie Jones, a student coordinator for the day of service, said the schedule included nursing home visits, volunteering at libraries and food deliveries.

Volunteers arrived as early as 7:15 a.m. to get in line for the event because volunteering is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Last year, several students were turned away because of a lack of volunteering spots. This was not a problem Monday.

“How do you honor a King? How do you honor a man that has been beaten, abused and cursed?” Williamson asked in his speech to all of the volunteers at the Union.

His answer was service.

OSU graduate and musician Yaves Ellis also spoke to the crowd of volunteers. He said it is not just about the intended service, it is about the motives.

“We don’t serve to get a pat on the back. We don’t get up this early in the morning to go out and serve, just to put it as a bullet point on our resumes,” Ellis said. “That is not why we serve. We serve because there is a need.”

Rosie Holmes, coordinator of community service at the Union, said although we have the day off school and work, a difference can be made around the Greater Columbus area.

“For students to step out and want to do service and celebrate Martin Luther King’s legacy that he left involving service and humanity in general, I think it just shows the commitment, not only from Ohio State students, but from the agencies that are willing to welcome our students and encourage giving back to our community,” Holmes said. “Three hours of work does a lot of good when you have 700 people out there doing service.”

Adam Rapien, an intern in the Office of Student Life, was in charge of planning the event. Rapien said several groups delivered meals through LifeCare Alliance. Other groups distributed literature about free health-care clinics around Columbus and made blankets for Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

One student volunteer, Brian Avsec, a first-year in biomedical engineering, spoke about the students’ obligation to service.

“Everyone that is fortunate enough to be able to live in a home, to have an education here, I think they should feel obligated to give back to the community,” Avsec said.

Avsec said he enjoyed his time at the MLK Day of Service and wants to get involved in more service at OSU.

“I’m proud of The Ohio State University for being so far advanced as far as service is concerned,” Williamson said. “It shows that our students are relevant, it shows that our students have passion, it shows that our students are committed to making a better tomorrow.”

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