Instead of taking their day off to relax without classes and homework, some UO students volunteered their time to help with various projects at Cascade Middle School, Shasta Middle School and Willamette High School.
“I just felt like it was important. It was important to come out and give back and make it a day on instead of a day off,” said student volunteer Olivia Manwarren.
“We’re doing some gardening, helping transport plants, painting their weight room and gym,” said student volunteer and coordinator Phebe Udo.
There doing this all in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
“We have all ages, abilities, and just a lot of diversity within the group that goes further than race of skin color,” Udo said.
“Something small like this, we’re working together peacefully. We’re working with our community and being unified. I think that’s what’s important,” Manwarren said.
They’re also helping spread the message of peace and unity by helping their community.
“It’s really important to have these people out here that are willing to take their time and connect with the community for a greater purpose,” Udo said.
“None of us got to where we are today without someone else getting us here. And as someone who also went to high school here in Eugene, it’s just really important to model the behavior of giving back as well and the importance of your community,” Manwarren said.
Organizers say volunteers helped last year as well, and after the success and response from high school students, they came back for a second year.
“It was amazing. Students came back and they looked around and said, ‘what happened? Where did this come from?’ it made them feel proud to be a student at Willamette High School,” said Mindy Laroux, Willamette High School Principal.
The UO students say doing this on their day off is meaningful and gets the MLK Day message across in a simple way.
“Being able to laugh with each other, just not taking each other seriously. Life’s too serious not to laugh,” Manwarren said.
Udo says there was an upward of 200 volunteers at all three sites, and they say they look forward to having this service project on MLK Day again next year.