Students step up for MLK Day of Service

By Jared Sichel | Section: Jan 25th, 2010 News

Whether rebuilding churches or spending time with the elderly in local nursing homes, hundreds of Tulane students worked from early Monday morning until late in the afternoon for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.

Honoring the legacy of the legendary civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., Tulane held the annual event in partnership with local universities Loyola, Dillard and Xavier.

The King Holiday and Service Act, which President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1994, has since encouraged hundreds of thousands of students and citizens to remember King by helping improve cities across the nation.

This year in New Orleans, more than 1,000 local students helped the city move one step closer to recovering from the setback of Hurricane Katrina by attracting volunteers through various advertising campaigns.

Sophomore Sara Kugler, a member of the Dream Team Committee — a coalition of Tulane, Loyola, Xavier and Dillard students that planned the volunteer effort in New Orleans — helped plan different methods of advertising, focusing on reaching students largely through the Internet.

“This year, we used Facebook and Twitter more heavily and we also did a better job of getting the word out to all four of the different universities,” Kugler said.

The “MLK Day of Service 2010” Facebook event had more than 400 confirmed attendees.

Sophomore Lawrence Loving, a Hullabaloo staff writer who spent time playing bingo with and chatting with local elderly residents at the Ferncrest Manor in New Orleans East, signed up for the Day of Service after being invited through Facebook.

“I think Facebook was the best form of advertising,” Loving said. “If you got the Facebook message, all you had to do was make two or three clicks and you were right on the sign-up page. You could check out all the different sites and see what jobs there were.”

Loving, who helped clean up a Vietnamese neighborhood last year for the Day of Service, said he felt that spending just a little bit of time with local residents was the right way to spend the day away from school.

“It’s a good thing for the folks at the nursing home because they don’t get a lot of visitors,” Loving said. “And it was good for us because we got an experience where we got to meet some older people who had some pretty interesting stories.”

Before going to the sites to volunteer and after finishing volunteering, all of the students from the four universities met up at Xavier to bond as a group. Loving said he thinks that some of this time could have been spent better volunteering at the sites.

“Meeting at Xavier caused us to have less time at the sites,” Loving said. “I felt like I bonded more with the volunteers from other schools while I was volunteering than when I was at Xavier.”

Senior Adam Pacsi, who helped arrange bus transportation and food and water delivery to all the sites, said he sees the MLK Day of Service as one opportunity among many for students to help rebuild New Orleans.

“The biggest thing that I hope people will walk away with is the idea of how many service opportunities there are in New Orleans and to take their experience on Monday and move it forward and do whatever sort of project they are interested in,” Pacsi said.

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