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UM Students, Staff Join Community for MLK Day of Service Activities

By Edwin B. Smith

University of Mississippi

University of Mississippi students Camden Yates (left) and Andi Brice, both members of the Bonner Program community internship cohort, work to prepare the Oxford Community Garden for spring planting as part of the 2022 Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Photo by Logan Kirkland/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Many University of Mississippi students, faculty and staff members, and community volunteers will spend their Jan. 16 cleaning, doing yardwork, packing literacy kits, composting, making dog toys and more as part of a university-led Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

The annual day of service provides volunteers from the campus and local community who donate their time and skills to improve life for Oxford and Lafayette County residents.

The UM Division of Diversity and Community Engagement will host a small-group immersive service experience from noon to 5 p.m. This event honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

Event check-in and kickoff will be at the Jackson Avenue Center, where volunteers will be dispersed to various volunteer sites around Oxford. Anyone can register to volunteer through Give Pulse.

“Through active participation in the community and intentional relationship building, the MLK Day of Service seeks to continue Dr. King’s legacy of love, service and community,” said Castel V. Sweet, director of community engagement. “We have committed to cross-promoting communitywide activities and supporting broad campus and community participation.”

Among the participating community partners are the Boys and Girls Club of Oxford, the Gordon Community and Cultural Center, LeapFrog, UM JumpStart, UM Office of Sustainability and the Oxford Animal Resource Center.

“The day of service offers a powerful experience that builds on the larger goal of creating immersive service-learning opportunities for students,” said Avery McNeece, assistant director of engagement.

Kenorous Wilson, director of the Boys and Girls Club of Oxford, said he appreciates the work performed by university students and community members on the facility’s behalf.

“Through the MLK Day of Service, Ole Miss students have provided maintenance to our buildings, which improves our operations,” Wilson said. “Their volunteer service speaks volumes about their level of commitment to the youth of Oxford and Lafayette County.”

Kathy Watcher, president of the Oxford Community Garden, said the organization appreciates any and all help the Ole Miss community provides.

“I’m hoping to possibly have them build another arbor as a day of service project this year,” said Watcher, who has been involved with MLK Day of Service since she joined the garden in 2009. “But whatever they do will help us get ready for things to start growing in the spring.”

For more about MLK Day of Service 2023, click here.

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