Various organizations, in collaboration with student volunteers from Shepherd University participated in a service project on Monday, Jan. 21 to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
The project, in conjunction with the Burk Street Promise Neighborhood initiative and the United Way Eastern Panhandle office, was at the Boys and Girls club in Martinsburg.
The initiative, according to Rachel Crum, one of the coordinators from the Shepherd University Office of Student Community Services, is located on King Street in Martinsburg, and has been identified as an area of great need.
"The main focus of the initiative is infants to three-year-olds, and a lot of things affect that area such as drop out rates, immigration, teen pregnancy and single parent homes. Thus, this area was designated as one of great need by United Way," she said.
The project itself was an all-day event, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Broken up into two segments, the estimated 50 or so children from the Boys and Girls Club and their families participated in a variety of activities.
From 10 a.m. until noon, the children developed a necessity kit, which mainly consisted of toiletries. The goal of this, according to Bassell Franks, one of the other coordinators from the Community Service Office, was to distribute them to shelters or churches in order to help under privileged families.
The children also learned how to plant by building an herb garden and participated in poetry writing, centered on the theme, "what service means to me."
"We really want to teach the kids that even though you're young, you can still give back to the community. You don't have to be an adult with a lot of money to do this. A small thing can go a long way," Crum said.
An open house was conducted from 2-4 p.m. which consisted of 12-13 stations for the children, their families and the community to participate in. The stations included activities such as face painting and creating a memory book, similar to a diary. They also learned facts about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and how his life relates to community service in their own lives.
In addition to these stages, the children had the opportunity to participate in physical activities in the gymnasium.
"The goal of these physical activities was to promote a healthy lifestyle and to make healthy choices," said Franks.
The children were served healthy meals during the event as well, with snacks such as trail mix.
Other organizations were present at the event to volunteer such as Healthy Smiles, which aids in the promotion of healthy teeth in children, and the Women, Infants, and Children Program or W.I.C., which looks to support overall nutrition.
Crum believes the day was a success. "Both Shepherd students and community children has a great time playing with one another all day," she said.
"I love the fact that they were interacting all day, it gave the kids a real opportunity to open up to the Shepherd students," she added.