-by Amanda Graham
Every year during the Martin Luther King (MLK) Jr. Day of Service, students, faculty and staff come together to create solutions to social problems in the community. This year, organizers of FIU’s 25th annual MLK Commemorative Celebration will host 25 service sites across South Florida as part of the MLK Day of Service Jan. 16, 2016.
“The MLK Day of Service honors Dr. King’s vision of unity by bringing together various members of the South Florida community,” said Ryan Keesee, coordinator for the Center for Leadership and Service, the department responsible for the organization of the event.
Offering 25 sites, the MLK Committee hopes to encourage volunteers to find a site near them. The sites include senior high schools like Booker T. Washington and Miami Northwestern; parks such as Arch Creek memorial and Virginia Key Beach; and nonprofit organizations like New Acropolis Miami, Breakthrough Miami, South Florida SPCA and Feeding South Florida.
Alexandra Bu, a senior majoring in advertising, began volunteering at the MLK Day of Service in 2013 through the Alternative Breaks program. She and her fellow site leaders and steering committee members have participated in beautification projects at Gwen Cherry Park.
“It’s a good way to commemorate everything Dr. Martin Luther King did to fight racial injustice,” said Bu, who is looking forward to participating in the 2016 MLK Day of Service. “Last year we only stayed in one location, but having it at multiple locations gives us an opportunity to extend a helping hand to more communities that want our help.”
At past MLK Days of Service, 300 to 500 volunteers engaged in the one-day project aimed at restoring and beautifying a targeted area in Miami-Dade County. This year, the committee is hoping to have about 700 volunteers helping in projects that include painting, landscaping and general clean up. Some of the sites will have more specific opportunities, such as resume workshops and bracelet creation for Valentine’s Day.
“Not only is it a great opportunity to do community service, but I love meeting new people who also enjoy making a difference,” said Bu. “What we do is small – but we help make a difference.”
The MLK Day of Service became a National Day of Service in 1994. For a detailed list of all service sites and to register, visit go.fiu.edu/MLKservice.