By Mary Kuhlman
The life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be remembered and honored today through acts of service in Indiana and around the country. The federal holiday became a national day of service in 1994. Samantha Warfield, spokesperson with the Corporation for National and Community Service, says every year, more and more people become engaged and want to give back to their community.
"Young people have grown up in school learning about what Dr. King does through the lens of service, whether through service learning projects or through history lessons," Warfield says. "We hope Dr. King would be proud of a day that's named in his honor and the work that's being done."
In Indiana, schools, universities, businesses, and community organizations are hosting service events around the state. Volunteers are doing a variety of projects to help others including sorting donations at food pantries, weatherizing homes, creating care packages for the homeless, and cleaning up neighborhoods.
Michael Shermis, event specialist with the Community and Family Resources Service Department with the City of Bloomington, says service projects are being held at over 40 locations around the city. He adds, engaging children in today's projects can help to build a lifetime of volunteering.
"Once kids get involved and then they see what they can do and how they can affect other people and what a difference they can make you hope they continue wanting to do it and helping out and seeing that there are other people out there that are less fortunate than them," says Shermis.
Indiana State University is among the colleges where students are volunteering on their day off of classes. Program coordinator with the Center for Community Engagement Jessica Starr says many students who participate on the MLK Day of Service decide they want to continue giving back to their community.
"They really enjoy the time and most of the students, if they are a first time volunteer, they'll go and they'll work at an agency and they'll realize, 'Oh I can volunteer here at a regular basis,'" says Starr.