“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
These words by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. captured the essence of the 21st Annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service. On Monday, January 18, Cairn students had the opportunity to serve in and around Philadelphia. The University tagline for the day was “Not a day off; a day on!” Many Cairn students, faculty, staff, and alumni joined 135,000 other volunteers around the Philadelphia area to honor Dr. Martin Luther King by serving in various community building projects.
One project that Cairn has been involved with is distributing invitations to take part in the annual Souper Bowl of Caring food drive event, hosted by the Bristol Community Partnership and Calvary Baptist Church in Bristol. This is the second year that Matt McAlack (professor and director of the youth and ministry program) and his wife, Michele (assistant in the University Ministry Center), have led the trip to Bristol.
After a short program to remember the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., participants fanned out across Bristol Borough to talk to residents about the importance of giving and handed out invitations for the event. Cairn volunteers were joined by community members, including the former mayor of Bristol Borough and the chief of police. Together, they reached nearly 2,000 homes. The food will be collected on Super Bowl Sunday (February 7th) and distributed to four Bristol food pantries.
Several Cairn students also served at Fishtown Recreation Center, a community-based nonprofit organization focused on reaching out to youth and engaging communities through art and art education. Freshmen Erin Villarose, Taylor Price, and Lee Beebe helped touch up the murals around the recreation center, wrote messages of encouragement to veterans and those serving around the world, and cleaned up the grounds surrounding the recreation center.
While many members of the Cairn community celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, their families were involved as well. Every year on MLK Day of Service, senior Kacie Loucks and her family support Cradles to Crayons, which is one of their favorite local service agencies. The organization provides children from birth through age twelve, living in homelessness or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive — at home, at school, and at play.
On MLK Day, the Loucks family headed over to Trevose Firehouse, where people from all over Bucks County drop off donations of clothes, toys, books, and baby items. Kacie and her sister organized the donations as they came in and kept a tally of how many people came by. This year, they had over 200 bags of donations.
Cairn sports teams were also involved in the MLK Day of service. Several members of the baseball team partnered with junior Joey Nieves-Markee’s church, Calvary Full Gospel, for an outreach project in the city of Trenton. They prepared breakfast boxes for homeless and underprivileged people on the streets of Trenton. Along with the breakfast boxes, they handed out water and flyers with information on how to receive more food, clothes, and other resources.
The number of Cairn students, faculty, staff, and even alumni who participated in the 21st Annual MLK Day of Service affirms Cairn’s dedication to serving and building the community. Cairn hopes to continue this tradition of service with even more participation from the student body next year!