On Saturday, Feb. 11, volunteers of the Durham community helped host the first ever MLK Day of Service event on the third floor of the Memorial Union Building (MUB) in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This was the third Black History Month event that UNH has hosted this month.
Coordinator at the UNH Office of Community Service & Learning and UNH alumna Megan Brabec ‘13 led the gathering which focused on a number of project options, including knitting scarves for the homeless, making no-bake granola bars for the food pantry, creating no-sew blankets for Project Minus, writing letters to veterans and making dog toys for the Cocheco Valley Humane Society.
The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA) helped invent the ideas of the different stations. According to Brabec, the event was funded by UNH’s Celebrate 150 campaign.
In reference to a famous Martin Luther King Jr. quote, Brabec asked the crowd, “What are you doing for others?”
“We’re not just doing volunteer work only because it’s fun, but rather to improve the communities we live in,” she added.
“At least for me, I feel like it beams outwards; I just get a good feeling in me,” UNH sophomore and event program assistant Mia Ferguson said when discussing how helping her community affects her. Ferguson first became engaged in community service at UNH when she took part in UNH’s Pre-orientation Volunteer Experience and Service (PrOVES) program as an incoming first-year student, which is a program designed to provide an opportunity for students to learn more about the local community.
Juan Fonseca of the Air National Guard was visiting a friend at UNH and decided to attend the MLK celebration. At the Operation Gratitude station, volunteers wrote letters to both veterans and those currently in the service.
“I appreciate their service, whether they’re overseas, in the desert, or whatever they’re doing, whatever service they’re in. I want to let them know that we’re here to support them,” Fonseca said.
A separate station was dedicated to making homemade granola bars for the Cornucopia Food Pantry. The recipe for the handmade granola bars included vanilla, honey, peanut butter, chocolate chips, shredded unsweetened coconut and rolled oats. These ingredients were then mixed together and rolled up into small round balls and placed into plastic bags, to donate to the pantry, which is located at 15 Mill Road in Durham.
Approximately 120 people attended the event. NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” could be heard playing while some attendees made dog toys out of recycled t-shirts and others tied blankets for the homeless.
T-shirts and water bottles were handed out to those who attended, while donations were also collected on Saturday. Such donated items included fresh produce that went to the food pantry, and pet food, which went to the Cocheco Valley Humane Society, an all-breed animal shelter and rescue organization located in Dover.
The next UNH Black History month event, “Fifty Shades of Black Love,” will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 15, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. in MUB 156, and is a discussion of the uniqueness of black love and relationships. On Wednesday, Feb. 22, “Always Forward, Never Back,” will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. in MUB 334, which will teach about black history in higher education at UNH.