UIC community gives back to honor Martin Luther King Jr.
More than 100 students, faculty and staff spent 280 hours of service Monday helping others during the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
Volunteers chose from 10 sites in and around Illinois that break barriers, inspire involvement and strengthen communities.
“The UIC mission includes creating knowledge, providing education opportunities, addressing challenges facing Chicago, fostering scholarship and practices that reflect diversity and training professionals in public service — the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service addresses all of these,” said Olivia Desormeaux, graduate assistant in Student Leadership Development and Volunteer Services.
“We’re helping to give back,” added Rita Gray-Marsh, an office support associate in psychology.
Gray-Marsh was one of 15 volunteers at the Pass It On Thrift Center in Crestwood. Volunteers sorted clothes, cleaned and moved furniture, repaired electronics, loaded vehicles and unloaded trucks from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The center’s proceeds help parents pay tuition for their children to attend Southwest Chicago Christian Schools.
“Education is one of the causes I care most about, because I think it’s really important for people to be able to afford going to school,” said Linsey Stonchus, a senior in business who woke up at 7 a.m. on her day off to travel to lead the volunteer effort at the thrift center.
Cammille Go volunteered as site lead for the Anti-Cruelty Society on Grand Avenue. She volunteered because she missed her cat, Chairman Meow, but mostly because she wanted to contribute to the mission of building a healthy community.
“I just want to make other people — or, in this case, cats and dogs — happy,” said Go, a freshman in biochemistry. “It’s really rewarding.”
The location’s 40 volunteers made kitty sachets, dog tug toys and no-sew pet beds for the location’s homeless pets.
Ontonio Jackson-Lucas, a junior in LAS, shared Stonchus and Go’s enthusiasm for celebrating the holiday in a different way.
“I never really do anything on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and I feel bad for it,” he said.
Jackson-Lucas was responsible for volunteer efforts at the Lincoln Park Community Shelter on Fullerton Parkway, a shelter that serves homeless adults. Volunteers made and served food and participated in community engagement programs such as peer and career coaching.
Jackson-Lucas played famous speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. while students, staff and faculty served hot meals and talked to the shelter’s guests.
“I want to get us in the mood and remind us of the reason that we’re here,” he said. “I want to reflect and make it feel personal.”
Jackson-Lucas hopes the service event will encourage people to respond to the needs of their communities, even after the holiday is over.
“This shouldn’t just be a once-a-year thing. Martin Luther King Jr. Day should be dedicated to something greater,” he said.