Tuesday, January 17, 2017

UIS students' efforts benefit local organizations

More than 100 University of Illinois Springfield students honored the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Monday by giving back to the local community and helping needy people abroad.

For the fifth straight year, UIS students volunteered as part of the national Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

Stop Hunger Now, Habitat for Humanity Restore, Concordia Village, Ronald McDonald House, Serving Jesus Willingly Urban Ministry, Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach, HSHS St. John's Children's Hospital, Springfield Urban League, Hope Thrift Store and Computer Banc all received volunteer help. Mark Dochterman, director of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center, said the goal of the day of service is to encourage students to be more civic-minded.

The volunteer help was especially beneficial to local nonprofits that have cut staff because of the ongoing state budget impasse, he noted. "Many organizations are just trying to keep the doors open, so any help they get is appreciated," Dochterman said.

For the first time this year, students also partnered with the North Carolina-based nonprofit Stop Hunger Now, which aims to combat world hunger. Dochterman said dozens of students packaged more than 10,000 meals at the UIS campus consisting of dehydrated vegetables, rice and a micro-nutrient blend that will be shipped abroad.

UIS senior Sean Flamand helped prepare the meals at the Student Life Building on the UIS campus. He's volunteered on the Day of Service before and always finds the experience to be rewarding, he said. "I really like getting in and doing the work because they always need the labor," Flamand said.

Earlier in the day Monday, UIS students walked in the NAACP Martin Luther King Jr. Unity March and participated in a panel discussion about race relations across the country.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on January 16, 2017.

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