By Megan Ake

College students across the metro Detroit area will have the opportunity to give back to local communities during the annual Martin Luther King Day of Service on Jan. 17.

The project, which is supported by the United Way of Southeastern Michigan, brings together students from various colleges including, and among others, Madonna, University of Michigan – Dearborn, Schoolcraft, and Davenport to complete a common objective.  This goal, according to the United Way’s registration website, is to “shed light on the fact that good things can, and do, happen when everyone works together.”

Inspired by Dr. King’s many Civil Rights messages of collaboration and support for one another, the Day of Service serves to highlight the idea that even small community projects can lead to common good for all.

“You can help your community in little ways,” said Nicole Nagy, an assistant for the Office of the First-Year Experience and advisor for Madonna’s student-led branch of the United Way. 

The United Way has pinpointed various projects around the Detroit area as needing assistance from the Day of Service volunteers this year, and several still have openings for participants.  Cody and Osborn High Schools are two sites that will have volunteers working on beautification tasks around the two buildings.  A school gym in the Van Dyke district needs cleaning, updating and painting.  And finally, Bridging Communities, a grassroots organization dedicated to creating peaceful and tolerable communities is looking for participants to assist elderly residents with general cleaning and painting jobs.

As for December, Nagy said that 60 people registered from Madonna, but 40 spots are still open for other students, faculty, or staff that may want to volunteer.  She also stressed not only the importance of the individual projects, but the opportunity to work with others from around the area.

“We brought in new schools this year,” Nagy said, “and everyone meeting each other is really nice.”

In addition to gaining volunteer experience and giving back to local communities, participants will be provided with a chance for to reflect on the day’s work during a luncheon at UofM - Dearborn immediately after the projects wrap up that day.  Volunteer team leaders will lead the reflections just before guest speaker Jessica Care Moore presents some of her poetry for the participants.

Interested parties can sign up for projects via the United Way’s online registration form.  The registration fee is taken care of by Madonna, so there’s no cost to participate, and all volunteers will receive a T-shirt, breakfast, and lunch.  No experience is necessary, but participants should be prepared for some light manual labor and will need to dress accordingly.

For more information, contact the Office of the First-Year Experience.