High Point University honors Martin Luther King Jr. with ‘a day on, not off’
Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 19, 2017
HIGH POINT – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” On a day that honors his legacy, High Point University answered his question with over 1,500 hours of service.
During High Point University’s annual Day of Service, over 35 service projects engaged students, faculty, community members and community leaders across the city, including U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis. Tillis joined a university student-run organization called United Apparel in packing “blessing boxes” filled with necessities for homeless veterans. He and 30 students also wrote thank you cards to include inside each box.
“Seeing this really warms my heart because if you’ve never met a homeless veteran, you have no idea how much that bag will make a difference,” said Tillis. “I’ve been involved with homeless veterans for nearly four years since I was speaker of the house – building homeless shelters for them, reaching out to them, finding a connection back into a health care provider. You’d be amazed at what a difference you can make if you show them you care about them. This is the sort of project we need more of.”
Other projects included working on community gardens, painting, cleaning community centers, meal preparation and packaging, clothing drives and more.
Student Jasmyn Alexander worked in the Mosaic Community Garden at Macedonia Family Resource Center, pulling weeds from the flower beds in preparation of spring planting.
“Serving the community on this day and any other day makes me feel grateful and makes me aware of those whose needs are greater than mine,” Alexander said. “As a student in High Point, I’m inspired to get out and give back to the community that we live in.”
Noah McDonald, a member of FoodCorps, worked alongside Alexander and saw this day of service as an opportunity to not only give back but to bring people together.
“I think it’s really important when trying to build an equitable future that as many parties as possible are involved,” he said. “The more college students, community members, nonprofit volunteers – the more voices we have in the room. The more people doing the work, the better off we are all going to be.”
Members of Beta Theta Pi fraternity gathered at the Howard Street Community Garden to paint a newly donated garden shed. Fraternity president Drew McInturff said that this day was important for both the HPU family and the High Point community.
“When HPU says it’s a ‘day on, not off,’ we as students take that very seriously and it means a lot to us to give back to the community,” said McInturff.
“Being in school here for four years, it’s the least we can do for the community,” said fraternity member Jon Pilato. “I’m also an assistant football coach at High Point Central and it really adds something extra to know that I’m helping a community I’m already involved in.”
At Bountiful Harvest Community Garden, the High Point University men’s and women’s track and field teams joined community volunteers and HPU faculty to build flower beds, repair fencing, rake leaves, prepare a greenhouse for planting in the spring and much more.
“I think it’s important for us to do this on Martin Luther King Jr. Day because he was a man of service,” said freshman Kanajzae Brown. “It’s great for us as a track team to give back to the community and be a help to a ministry that’s always giving back to women and children who are in need.”
“I’ve been doing this for over a year now and I can say that we wouldn’t have completed anything without community support,” said Dara Farris, Bountiful Harvest community garden coordinator. “High Point University has been an amazing support to the community gardens of High Point in general and especially here at West End Ministries. They have just done an awesome job. For me, it really demonstrates what the gardens are about – it’s about bringing people together.”
“Dr. King emphasized the importance of transforming communities — of bringing people together,” said the Rev. Joseph Blosser, director of service learning at the university and organizer of the Day of Service. “Today, HPU faculty, staff and students joined together with the High Point community to build relationships, complete volunteer service projects, and work toward the world Dr. King envisioned.”