"The time is always right to do what is right." Those words once spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were the theme of this year’s MLK Day of Service, which was held on Saturday, January 18. The annual event, a UChicago tradition for more than 20 years, aims to create opportunities for members of the campus and local communities to engage in service projects across Chicago.
This event is the coordinated effort of the Office of Civic Engagement’s (OCE) University Community Service Center (UCSC) in partnership with the UChicago Laboratory Schools and the Woodlawn Charter High School. It drew more than 200 attendees of all ages who began the day with a kick-off gathering in Ida Noyes Hall, which included breakfast and a spoken word performance by Chicago poet Kwyn Townsend Riley. Afterwards, 150 participants departed by bus to one of six service sites across the city, including Bret Harte Elementary School, Share Your Soles, First Presbyterian Church, Featherfist, Senior Suites, and the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club. An additional 60 participants remained on campus to complete a meal packaging program for Rise Against Hunger, creating 40,176 meals that were distributed to people around the world. Following the two-hour service projects, all participants returned to campus for lunch and to reflect on the experience.
"This event is one of a kind and a great example of what can happen when University entities partner for greater collective impact," said Kafi Moragne-Patterson, Director of Student Civic Education at OCE. "At UCSC, and OCE more broadly, we feel the responsibility of serving as a bridge for thoughtful civic engagement between members of the University and the city of Chicago. It’s rewarding when families, including young children, have the opportunity to learn from community partners and engage the beauty and vibrance of our city’s South Side."
MLK Day of Service is one of many opportunities offered by OCE that connect the campus community to local service projects. By introducing people to various community organizations, the office aims to inspire long-term, sustainable service commitments.
To learn more about UCSC and get information on upcoming events, visit the unit's website. To discover the positive impact units across campus are having on the South Side and across the city, subscribe to University’s monthly civic engagement newsletter.