Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2016 brought record cold temperatures to the Asheville area, but that didn’t stop 140 UNC Asheville students and employees from spending their day off engaging in service to the community, and learning from that experience.
“Service is important for so many reasons, but a lot of the time people just say ‘because you are helping people.’ I don’t really think that is true,” said Anja Mayr, a junior who was volunteering on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service for the second time. “You may be providing a service where you are, but the service site is also providing a service to you. Through service you are gaining a better understanding of yourself and your community.”
“It’s nice to have an opportunity to help out when I’m needed,” said Emma Pyron as she helped students at the YWCA of Asheville decorate posters celebrating King’s life and work. “You get to see different perspectives every time you do it. It’s an opportunity to see new things and open up your mind to new ways of experiencing the day.”
The posters featured drawings and pictures of King, excerpts from his famous speeches, information about his life, and some glitter. The day was too chilly for the younger students to participate in the annual march downtown, as they usually would, so they worked on posters to be displayed around the YWCA.
“Kids provide such a unique perspective to topics such as MLK Day, and I look forward to learning from them,” said Mayr.
Other UNC Asheville students and employees volunteered throughout Asheville, braving the cold and gaining hands on experience in the Shiloh Community Garden and community gardens on UNC Asheville’s campus, or helping to build a new home with Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity. Others volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club of Buncombe County, organized and packed boxes at the YMCA food pantry, or helped to clean litter off the roadside with Asheville Greenworks.
Students shared their experience through social media, where Chancellor Grant thanked everyone for their service, and reminded the UNC Asheville community of King’s famous words: “Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.”
Share your own service story with us, using #uncavlmlk2016.