UIC community honors MLK with service

making cards at community center

UIC students and employees volunteer at the Lincoln Park Community Shelter Monday during the MLK Day of Service. (Photo: Spencer Long)

UIC students, faculty and staff honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy Monday by volunteering throughout the Chicago area.

“Day of Service,” an event coordinated by UIC’s Student Leadership Development and Volunteer Services office, paired volunteers with community organizations on the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. – a holiday when classes did not meet.

In total, 109 members of the UIC community spent the day off contributing 300.5 hours of service.

“It means everything to me to do service in the name of Martin Luther King,” said Ontonio Jackson-Lucas, a student and site leader for the event. “It’s a shame that this day is taken off; rather, it should be required to give back to one’s community.

“His legacy was an uninhibited push for equality among all people. This means that those that are unable to enjoy the same luxuries as me should be lifted up as well.”

Jackson-Lucas led volunteer efforts at the Lincoln Park Community Shelter, a social service agency that serves adult men and women experiencing homelessness.

“About 27 volunteers came out, and that’s not very typical for a rainy day in January,” he said. “The Lincoln Park Community Shelter is a familiar place now and the residents have become very open with us.

“Hearing their stories humbles you and makes you realize how fortunate you are to be in the situation you’re in. However, by sitting down and having a meal with the residents, we see that no matter a person’s situation, we are still human and that we are going through some of the same hardships.”

Across the city at Open Books in Pilsen, members of UIC’s Urban Planning and Policy Student Association (UPPSA) braved the sloppy weather to continue the work King started.

“There are things that he fought for in terms of equity, racial justice, workers’ rights, helping the poor that we as urban planners and policy analysts are learning about in school and strive to try and keep going,” said UPPSA president Michael Sewall. “I think that’s part of why we do regular service days, and this was an opportunity to add to it.”

Volunteers at Open Books shelved and sorted books for in-store and online stock.

“We had a lot of fun,” said Maux Sullivan, site leader at Open Books. “We were organizing kids’ books, so it was very sentimental.”

Sullivan said it was nice to see the UIC community uniting to assist those in need.

“Our school is huge,” Sullivan said. “So to see students from different departments, grad school, undergrad, all sorts of things, coming together to give back to the community is really cool.”