USD students, organizations contribute to MLK Day of Service

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Organizations from The University of South Dakota challenged the community to commit to “a day on, not a day off” for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and more than 150 people responded to the challenge as they helped with the completion of multiple service projects on Monday, Jan. 18.

Funded, in part, by a $2,500 grant from the North Carolina Campus Compact and coordinated by USD’s Center for Academic Engagement in collaboration with the USD Students Enhancing Resources for Vermillion Enrichment and the Campus Diversity Enhancement Group,participants donated more than 600 hours of their time to projects in the Vermillion community.

After a morning ceremony celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., 19 groups of volunteers went to work in the community collecting canned goods for the local food pantry, visiting Sanford Hospital, preparing and serving meals at the Welcome Table, painting, cleaning and organizing at several local nonprofit organizations.

An anticipated 10,000 projects were planned across the country for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, according to the federal Corporation for National and Community Service.

“Serving on MLK Day is very important to me because it enables a person to show their appreciation and pride for their community and country as a whole,” said Laurel Rub, a USD student from Norfolk, Neb., and a member of the MLK Planning Board. “The day was a chance to connect with others while making a small difference in the world.”

In addition to Rub, other students from The U on the planning board were Lindsey Petrik of Rapid City, S.D., Nadine McDaniel and Eric Thornton of Mitchell, S.D., Shari Fischbach of Mellette, S.D., Teresa Mallett of Watertown, S.D., Erin Simpfenderfer of Wall, S.D., Rachel Svartoien of Freeman, S.D., Brenan Tjelmeland of Fort Calhoun, Neb., and Alexandra Ortiz of Storm Lake, Iowa. Two AmeriCorps VISTA’s involved with the project were Brittany VanHove of Marion, S.D., and Donielle Gustafson of Pierre, S.D.

Additional sponsors of the event included ARAMARK, Jones’ Food Center, Vermillion Chamber and Development Company, U. News, 4Imprint and Craig K. Thompson Law Offices.