The Times West Virginian

January 18, 2014

Volunteers focus on helping to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day

By Chelsi Baker
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Local community service efforts prove that in Fairmont, Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be a day “on,” not a day “off” for volunteers.

The action begins Sunday at Central United Methodist Church with a donation drive, hosted by AmeriCorps volunteers, from noon-12:30 p.m. Donors are asked to bring nonperishable food, personal hygiene products and men’s winter boots, gloves and socks to benefit the Marion County Coalition to End Homelessness.

A similar donation drive, also hosted by AmeriCorps volunteers, is scheduled from 5-8 p.m. Monday at the Marion County Senior Center.

AmeriCorps volunteers Malina Suity, Raven Thomas, Lauren Brennan and Bri Simpson created the events during a training day with the Mountain State Leaders program in Fairmont to celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

Volunteers are required to do service projects outside their designated service sites, said Suity, who serves Main Street Fairmont.

“Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who gets attached to one specific way of serving and that one topic,” Suity said. “I think he believed in serving the entire community and not just one aspect of it. That’s what AmeriCorps is about — serving your community as a whole and not just the organization you’re placed with.”

Fairmont State University will also serve the community in honor of Dr. King. FSU’s Civic Engagement Advisory Board has been accepting donations throughout the week and will accept items including travel-sized shampoo, soap, shaving cream, razors, toothbrushes and other personal-hygiene items through Sunday.

Members of the community brought items to the Fairmont State basketball game Monday, but donations throughout the week have been mostly from FSU students, faculty and staff.

“We’re reminding people they can just bring in hotel items they’ve collected over the years,” said civic engagement coordinator Amy Drvar. “Those are great to collect and hand out.”

Donors can drop items in Box of Sunshine Drive collection boxes located at the Feaster Center, Falcon Center and Turley Center on the FSU campus and at the Ruth Ann Musick Library circulation desk.

“We called it Boxes of Sunshine because we’re hoping it brightens someone’s day a little bit to know that others are thinking of them,” Drvar said.

An estimated 25-30 student, faculty and staff volunteers will gather Monday in the Turley Center at FSU to sort through donated items and put together small personal-hygiene care packages. Volunteers will then deliver them to Fairmont’s Soup Opera to benefit its clients.

Drvar wanted to preserve King’s legacy by encouraging people to donate and help those less fortunate, even on their day off from work or school.

“The slogan of the Day of Service is to make the holiday a day ‘on,’ not a day ‘off.’ It honors what he stood for: always helping the community to make a difference.”

Email Chelsi Baker at cbaker@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @CBakerTWV.