By Laura Hayes, Diversions Editor
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has long been a day for the Furman community to relax and refresh after the first week of classes. This year, Heller Service Corps and the Interfraternity Council (IFC) sought to change how Furman students spend their day off.
In order to be able to fully celebrate the holiday, the Furman Panhellenic Council moved Bid Day to Sun., Jan. 17, a change from last year. According to Jessica Berkey, director of student activities and the Trone Student Center, “Panhellenic Council adjusted the recruitment schedule to allow Furman students to participate in the Day of Service and other community events, and to properly observe the holiday.” As a result, Panhellenic organizations such as Kappa Kappa Gamma and Delta Gamma were able to sign up to volunteer as a group.
However, the Day of Service has not always been advertised campus-wide. Deborah Allen, associate director for diversity programs and student activities, explained that three years ago, when the Day of Service concept was first put in place, the idea was centered around the Interfraternity Council providing its handiwork services to various locations around Greenville.
“This year, we saw a need to open it up to all students, faculty and staff,” Allen said. “I sent emails explaining the event with a link to sign-up to volunteer to key student organization leaders and they shared it with their members. Nancy Cooper, coordinator of Heller Service Corps, found sites that needed our help and through the preferences students indicated through the sign-up link, we were able to pair them with an organization or site that they were interested in volunteering for.”
Many of these volunteer opportunities included outdoor handiwork such as raking leaves and painting, but there were also a variety of local organizations such as assisted living facilities that requested student volunteers.
“People love to see students getting involved in the community and it’s really beneficial for students to learn more about Greenville’s history from those who have lived it” Allen said.
According to Allen, more than 300 volunteers from various organizations such as Greek Life, RLC, NAACP, the Gospel Choir and Religious Life Council signed up to volunteer in addition to students and faculty who signed up independently.
“This is a great opportunity for those who haven’t done as much community service during their time at Furman and encourage them to do more continuous community service work,” Allen said. “I hope that as a result of this Day of Service, students are able to gain an understanding that Martin Luther King, Jr. was about serving all groups of people.”