MLK Day of Service

Reported by Kaylee Hatfield

George Fox University (GFU) students and staff participated in the eighth annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on Jan. 15. Contrary to GFU’s Serve Day during fall semester, this volunteer opportunity is optional yet it is just as meaningful. The Day of Service intends to have students working as a community for justice and the service of others to honor King’s legacy.

This year, teams from GFU and five other colleges in the Portland area joined to serve at various community sites including a food pantry, food and clothing distribution site, local park, churches, and the sides of streets. The day is a chance for GFU students to gain an understanding on how to help others with fewer resources than themselves. 

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Cora Beeman, a junior at GFU who participated in the event, expressed that although the Equal Rights Amendment was passed over four decades ago, there is still much to be done. Occasions like MLK Day of Service are “steps in the right direction,” said Beeman, encouraging students to participate. “[The Martin Luther King Day Jr. Day of Service] allows you to help your community with a specific voice and message...of driving out darkness and evil [using] love and light to support all of our brothers and sisters within the body of Christ.” 

Amidst the community service activities, people like Associate University Pastor Jamie Johnson found themselves relating with others through sharing stories of struggle, victory and perseverance, as well as life, faith, politics, studies, food, and laughter. 

“Good work being done in the name of MLK!” said Johnson, who worked at a church in southwest Portland with an organization called Depave. 

For Associate Professor of Religion Steve Sherwood, the day was well spent in conversation and manual labor. “Spending a day with folks from other schools, with a rich mix of ethnic backgrounds, serving in communities that have some kind of need, and thinking about King and Civil Rights,” said Sherwood, “is a great way to spend the day.” 

Johnson concluded, “This is a wonderful opportunity to be the salt and light Jesus calls us to be, and to make friends with those from around the Portland area.”