For those of us already struggling under the weight of renewed classes after a long winter break, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is likely a very welcome day to catch up on sleep. But, as inviting as a three-day weekend may be, we feel compelled encourage the Drexel community to get out there and make the day much more worthwhile for those Philadelphians who can’t be fortunate enough to take a day off.
In the 26 years since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was first observed, the holiday has become much larger then a simple celebration of an American hero. It has come to represent the mission of community building that Dr. King envisioned. The M.L.K. Day of Service, officially designated as such in 1994, is especially important in the Philadelphia area. Attending school in the often sheltered and relatively beautiful University City District can make it easy for us to forget that our city has some of the most underprivileged neighborhoods in the nation.
With these less fortunate neighbors in mind, the city steps up every M.L.K. Day to earn its City of Brotherly Love nickname. Last year over 75,000 volunteers participated in more than 1,200 projects across the Philadelphia area by participating in the Global Citizen King Day of Service. In an incredible show of support for Dr. King’s mission of bringing every creed, race and religion together to make their communities stronger from the ground up, some 675,000 volunteers have offered a helping hand to their neighbors in the city since the program started in 1996.
At Drexel we can often feel removed from the neighborhood around us. Sure, there are homeless people around campus, and any student who ventures too far north or west off campus comes face to face with poverty, but we are often able to avoid these aspects of the city we all call home during our time at Drexel.
So let’s get engaged. This Monday, Jan. 16, let’s show the rest of the city that Drexel is deeply committed to giving back to the city that is our classroom. Staff and faculty will be out in force across the city, many students in fraternities and sororities are already planning events, and co-ops from the College of Engineering will be volunteering at a jobs and opportunity fair at Girard College.
For opportunities to make your mark on our city, students can visit www.mlkdayofservice.org to view some of the 1,200 service project opportunities across the city on Monday. Sleep can wait, and Facebook and XBox will still be there Tuesday. Let’s make our day off a day that matters by getting as many Dragons as we can on the streets to help out on M.L.K. Day.
Of course, that’s only one day of the year. To find opportunities to volunteer for the other 364 days, students can always browse through the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement’s service opportunity database at www.drexel.edu/cce. Look for the “Service Opportunities” link in the Students section.