Penn State Wilkes-Barre students take part in MLK Day of Service

Students work on preparing a blanket laid out on a table.

Penn State Wilkes-Barre students work on a blanket as part of a service project on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Credit: Penn State

DALLAS, Pa. — Students at Penn State Wilkes-Barre participated in a service project on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to honor King’s life and legacy.

The campus joined with the Wilkes-Barre NAACP, O’Donnell Law Firm, the Wilkes-Barre Health Department, and the Friedman Jewish Community Center to take part in the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service, the only federal holiday designated as a National Day of Service, to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. The groups assembled blankets and collected canned goods that will be donated to Keystone Mission, Ruth’s Place and Sarah’s Table.

“By participating in the MLK National Day of Service, we are able to remember the spirit of the MLK holiday, which is to give back to the community and raise each other up whenever we can,” said John Vito Powell, student activities coordinator. “It is important for our campus community to be involved with events like these to demonstrate our care and concern for our neighbors.”

Several staff members and students from Penn State Wilkes-Barre assisted with the project by assembling blankets from kits. Throughout the event, the community volunteers were able to assemble a total of 74 blankets to be donated to the three local organizations, along with the cans of soup they collected.

Powell said that in addition to serving members of their community, the students were able to meet representatives of other local organizations to develop valuable relationships.

“It was essential that we brought our students, most of whom are members of the campus Black Student Union organization, to this opportunity because they were able to give back and make community connections,” he said. “The students were also able to connect with the Wilkes-Barre NAACP representatives to create a much-desired relationship for future endeavors in which they will be able to get involved.”

Jaymes Jackson, a senior studying corporate communication, is one of the members of the Black Student Union who participated in the volunteer effort.

“This world is a better place when we are selfless, no matter the circumstances or occasion. I’ve would’ve volunteered any day of the year if it meant I could give to those less fortunate than I am,” he said. “I also participated because it is always good to keep the vision and ideas of our leaders and ancestors alive. This event was in memory of Dr. King and his accomplishments, so I felt it was my civil duty to participate in it. We don’t have anyone else in African American history who has a holiday for them, so this feels like a day for all our heroes. As a young African American man, it’s the least I could do for what they’ve gone through to allow me to be in positions I have today.”