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Mount Students See MLK Day as a Day On to Serve, Not a Day Off

Civil rights activist and minister Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?” On Monday, Jan. 15, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, more than 90 Mount St. Mary’s University students will answer that call to service by volunteering their time and energy on two service trips – turning a day off into a day on.

mlk-student-service.jpgWhy would nearly 100 students give up the last day of their winter break? Ian Van Anden, director of the Mount’s Office of Social Justice, offers two reasons. First, they understand the importance of King’s message of working together. Second, they recognize that their work is making the world a better place.

“Mount students are incredibly invested in making the most of every moment they have off, giving back and making a difference,” Van Anden said. The university’s strong tradition of service is reflected in the ongoing marketing campaign, Live Significantly, which focuses on how students at the Mount serve selflessly, learn voraciously, explore boundlessly, compete ferociously, dream limitlessly and grow faithfully.

mlk-student-service1.jpgThe number of students participating in the MLK day of service has nearly doubled since 2016. This commitment to service is apparent throughout the year. Mount students volunteer more than 23,000 hours of their time each year across a wide array of service opportunities. Projects range from helping at the Seton Center and Frederick Rescue Mission, to traveling out-of-state to help build homes with Habitat for Humanity, to serving communities in other countries, such as Belize. The Mount has also partnered with the Special Olympics of Maryland for nearly 30 years, with more than 300 students volunteering for the 2017 Fall Sports Festival.

On January 15, students will leave campus at 7 a.m. One group of students will travel to the District of Columbia and partner with City Year, an education nonprofit that focuses on helping underserved schools and the students who attend them. These volunteers will paint schools, clean up neighborhoods and parks, serve in soup kitchens, support senior citizens and run educational activities for children. The other group will partner with The 6th Branch in Baltimore, undertaking projects at schools, parks and greenspaces.

mlk-service-students2.jpgThis day of service marks the sixth time the Mount will partner with The 6th Branch and the second with City Year. Beyond MLK Day, Mount students have worked with veteran-led The 6th Branch in aiding its efforts to eliminate vacant lots in east Baltimore by transforming them into places where the community can play, garden or simply relax.