Despite the extreme cold, on Jan. 21, Corban students and staff fanned out across Salem and Keizer en masse to serve those in need.
Approximately 300 Corban volunteers assisted on fifteen projects, which included gardening, painting, cleaning, trail improvement and more. The volunteers were part of Corban’s second annual MLK Serve Day born of a desire to give back and honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
“I really like what we are doing and giving back to the community,” said sophomore Terrika Weaver, who volunteered on a trail improvement project. “It was cold at first, but we had a great time and forgot about it pretty quickly.”
At the Sunnyslope Community Garden, volunteers leveled the frozen ground around several garden plots. They also used cardboard to block weeds and covered it with bark chips. Similar efforts were made at four other gardens that the Marion-Polk Food Share uses to help community members grow their own food and to distribute among the thousands of families it serves.
At the Mid-Willamette Habitat for Humanity ReStore, volunteers distributed fliers about the non-profit throughout the community. Additionally, they helped clear space for donations at the retail store location. At Minto-Brown Island Park in Salem, the Corban men’s and women’s soccer teams joined Willamette University to lay down bark chips on trails surrounding the popular dog park area.
“I knew that it was going to be fun and it has been so far,” said sophomore Derik Cheney. “It’s a great tradition to keep and I hope there are more opportunities like this.” Salem Parks Maintenance Operator Andre Paquet said the many volunteer labor hours donated by community members has a major impact for people who use the parks.
“It does tons for the community and its morale,” said. “Normally we get one or two people at a park or an inmate work crew of 10 or 12 people. With this many people we can get a project done in one fell swoop. Something that might take a week can be done in a few hours.”
Serve Day Co-Coordinator Jeff Benjamin said the volunteers were a testimony to the servant hearts of those at Corban.
“The participation level was high in both the morning and afternoon,” he said. “I was impressed by the students taking what could have been a holiday for them and choosing to serve.
“I can really see this as something we anticipate doing as an ongoing act of service each year on MLK Day,” he added. “It’s a natural fit for our students and staff.”