Community Service Center celebrates King with day of service

Adrienne Burch

Bad weather did not stop around 100 UA students from volunteering across Tuscaloosa on Saturday with the Community Service Center’s Hands on Tuscaloosa event in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Hands on Tuscaloosa is a series of Saturday morning outreach efforts sponsored by the CSC and other student organizations across campus. These service days are designed to give students an opportunity to meet people from local volunteer organizations and give back to the community.

Saturday’s event was dedicated to Dr. King and his legacy of service.

“It is important for students to volunteer,” said Star Bloom, Program Director of Al’s Pals and faculty advisor in the Division of Student Affairs. “In the long term, when they take a job, these students will be the ones who understand the community’s need.”

The weather prevented volunteers from working in tornado recovery zones in Alberta City. However, they were relocated to work at a local nursing home and with the Salvation Army at Temporary Emergency Services.

Another group visited the McKenzie Court Housing Authority and did Martin Luther King Jr. themed crafts and played games with the children. They read stories about Dr. King’s life and made bracelets with different color beads to represent different aspects of his character.

“We want to tell the kids about [Dr. King’s] legacy,” said Shea Stripling, a junior majoring in English. “It is important that they learn about the impact he had on our society.”

These student volunteers are able to bond and build relationships with the children through events like Hands on Tuscaloosa.

“I enjoy working with kids,” said Mary Housewirth, a junior majoring in chemical engineering. “They say funny things, and it’s always rewarding to see them learn.”

Many of the volunteers at Hands on Tuscaloosa also participate in other volunteer opportunities across campus, such as Al’s Pals or weekly service events sponsored by the CSC. Sandra White, a junior at UA, volunteered for the BCS National Championship day service project in Tuscaloosa on Jan. 9,which led her to want to participate in Hands on Tuscaloosa.

“It’s like you volunteer once, and you get hooked,” Bloom said.

The students at McKenzie were working with volunteers from the nationwide volunteer program, AmeriCorps. These Hands on Tuscaloosa events are designed so that students can build long-term relationships with these nationwide organizations and then continue to give back to the community in a bigger way.

“Volunteering gives you a purpose,” Stripling said. “In class, you take in all of this knowledge, and volunteering gives you somewhere to share it. There is no guilt involved in giving back.”

Students can visit for information regarding upcoming service opportunities through the CSC.