In 1968, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Fifty years later, his legacy has inspired a national day of volunteer work in his honor, and on Jan. 15, 45 Binghamton University students took advantage of the opportunity to give back to their community at the second annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., volunteers assisted staff at the Tri Cities Opera, The Discovery Center, the Center for Technology and Innovation and two local nursing homes by cleaning, organizing and performing other small tasks.
At Tri Cities Opera, located at 315 Clinton St. in the city of Binghamton, volunteers helped organize trims and fabrics in the costume room. Sue Johnson, the costume shop manager, said she started her job by volunteering and hoped others would follow in her footsteps.
According to Alyanna Gallo, a sophomore majoring in anthropology, volunteering at the Tri Cities Opera gave her a chance to reflect on the importance of community outreach.
“Volunteering is important because it gives you the opportunity to become more involved in your community while giving you a chance to actually see the impact your work is doing,” Gallo wrote in an email. “Every act of service you do has a huge impact.”
The United Way of Broome County and the University’s Multicultural Resource Center helped plan the day of community service, which was funded though a Students Affairs Divisional Diversity Initiative grant. The grant, which provides allocations for programming that promotes diversity, funded snacks and transportation to the sites for volunteers.
Jose Maldonado, ‘12, is a diversity fellow at the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and one of the organizers of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. According to Maldonado, this year’s event was larger than the first trip last year, with 20 more students volunteering.
“With Dr. Martin Luther King being such an important advocate and civil rights leader of our time, before his passing, this is just a way of us trying to live his legacy,” Maldonado said. “Being able to reach out to the community, whether that’s through the element of service, helps to provide good character.”
Volunteers at the Center for Technology and Innovation in Downtown Binghamton began their community service by taking a tour of the building and learning about innovations pioneered in Broome County. Later, they helped move and organize electronics to prepare for upcoming events at the center. John Alexandro, a sophomore majoring in accounting, said he helped shelve items and was surprised by what he learned.
“It was cool to see all of the stuff that actually started in Binghamton,” Alexandro said. “Kids from around Binghamton were there learning how to code for video games, so that education really makes a difference in the community.”