On Jan. 20, Corban University students and staff took to the streets of Salem and made a difference for people and organizations across the region.
They woke up early and shoveled and raked bark chips onto a path at McKay High School Park in NE Salem. They sorted and packed two tons of dried beans and frozen sausage that will go to families in need at the Marion-Polk Food Share. They prepared community gardens for planting, built a chicken coop, cleaned an historic home and grounds and helped homeless women and children.
In all, nearly 1,200 hours of community service was completed as part of MLK Serve Day, an annual event to recognize and honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy. Throughout the day, students and staff worked in seven community gardens, two city parks, The Union Gospel Mission, the Historic Deepwood Estate and the Marion-Polk Food Share.
“MLK Serve Day is an excellent example of what Corban University is about,” said Serve Day Coordinator Ben Pearson. “These students, staff and faculty members aren’t just doing projects that are complete today. They also are having an impact in the world around them by helping provide food for families in poverty.”
MLK Serve Day was started in 2012 at the request of students who wanted to take what was normally a day of classes and turn it into a day of service. Though community service isn’t required, many made the decision to get up early, put on cold weather work clothes and serve others.
“It was very hard to get up this morning, especially when I heard it was 34 degrees outside,” said freshman Kira Kamrud, who spent the foggy morning spreading bark chips. “I feel great about it. Even though it’s hard to get up, once you are out here and realize how much this is helping others to enjoy this park, it’s pretty awesome.”
At the Marion-Polk Food Share, many students were up to their elbows in kidney and pinto beans. They scooped the dried legumes from bulk containers and sorted them into family sized baggies for distribution. Others packed and weighed frozen sausage. Marion-Polk employee Megan Rivera said having a large group of enthusiastic students willing to help makes a difference for the non-profit.
“It is a cost saving measure to have so many people volunteering,” she said. “We have about 10,000 families per month that receive emergency food from us. These students are helping us make a direct and tangible difference for these families in need.”
At the Christian Community Placement Center’s Eden Garden, students picked dead foliage from planter boxes and spread new soil throughout the garden. Additionally, many helped build a large chicken coop, even as four hens scrambled around their feet searching for insects dug up by the posthole diggers and trenching shovels some of the students wielded.
As Pearson moved between project sites, he said he was impressed by not only the turnout of students, but also their positive attitudes while serving.
“This is just one opportunity for us to be the hands and feet of Christ in Salem and Keizer,” he said. “Everyone out here is here because they chose to give of their time and talent, and it really is a great reflection of what Corban University is working to be in the community.”
See additional MLK Serve Day photos here.