By Mra Than

22 Ripon College students and faculty participated in service projects in the Ripon community for Martin Luther King Day on Monday, Jan. 16. This is a fairly new tradition for Ripon College, spearheaded by Kyonna Henry and Meg Carne to establish Martin Luther King Day as a day of service at Ripon College to give back to the Ripon community.

Last year, through the efforts of Henry and Carne, the MLK Day of Service was established in Ripon College where students and faculty could sign up to work together in service projects within the Ripon community for a full day of community service.

“We believed that MLK Day should be a day ‘on’ instead of a ‘off’. A day to come together to volunteer and give back to communities while honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King,” said Henry, director of multicultural affairs at Ripon College. “We need go out and serve our community, reflect on social injustices, and make our community better just as Martin Luther King did for his community,” she said.

The MLK Day of Service is observed as a national day of service dedicated to bringing people together and strengthening community relationships through service. This year, 12 students and faculty volunteered at the Ripon Children’s Learning Center and 10 at the Ripon Food Pantry. At the Ripon Food Pantry, the participants carried out boxes and bins of food to different individual’s cars coming to the food pantry to get items. Despite the cold and dreary weather, first-time participant Professor Michael Mahoney had a rewarding and fun experience volunteering at the Ripon Food Pantry.

“It was nice to be doing something helpful, even if it was just a little thing, and it was good to bond a little bit with students, staff, faculty and people from outside the Ripon College community while doing it,” he said.

At Ripon Children’s Learning Center, the women’s basketball team, President Zach Messitte, Henry, and other students helped the children with their assignments. The assignments were based on teaching them the history of Martin Luther King Day and the Civil Rights Movements through short readings and word search puzzles.

Junior Jairo Javier, who volunteered at the Children’s Learning Center, commented on the experience. “Dr. Martin Luther King stood for creating a more unified community and in reference to today, that message is still being encouraged and I love that Ripon College takes a role in it,” he said. “As students, we are constantly busy and to have a day where we are encouraged to do something else and get to know our community is wonderful.”

Slowly but surely, Henry hopes that MLK Day of Service will become a Ripon College tradition where more students and faculty become involved and engaged in service activities not only on MLK Day but throughout the school year.