Suraia Silveira '20 from Boston, Mass., was one of the students instrumental in organizing the day of service.
“It was stressful in the beginning because there were only five of us and we were afraid that we wouldn't have enough people to participate, that students wouldn't come back early. But in the end, it came a long way actually. We ended up spreading it out through Huntingdon and into Mount Union,” she said.
In total, 91 volunteers participated, comprised of the College's students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
Volunteer sites and projects across Huntingdon County included: meal prep at the Stone Church of the Brethren to prepare for a community meal at the church at 5 p.m., a moving project at the Huntingdon Borough Office, general cleanup and organizing at the Huntingdon Community Center, cleaning and painting at the Huntingdon County Library, restocking, cleaning, dog walking, and cat petting at the Humane Society, sorting and organizing at the Huntingdon Area High School, and work at the Silica Athletic Park in Mount Union.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a national holiday and also a national day of service.
“I feel this should be done everywhere, not just one college doing it,” said Silveira. “We have speakers here to talk about Martin Luther King Day, but we never had a day of service where students are engaged.”
April Wells '20 from San Fernando Valley, Calif., is glad to see the College community go out into the surrounding area.
The slogan of MLK Day of Service is 'A Day On, Not a Day Off' and students have taken that to heart.
“I really like the people at Juniata and volunteering, and I thought it would be a great way to start the semester doing something I feel strongly about with people I care about,” said Anne Callaway '23 from Phoenixville, Pa.
Payton Kough '22 from Chambersburg, Pa., said she enjoys giving back.
“I just like volunteering and giving back whenever there's an opportunity,” said Kough.
Matthew Damschroder, dean of students, was in awe of the turnout and drew parallels between the past and the present.
“It's inspiring to see students turn out and try to make the change in the world that they aspire to. I was really moved by Marita Gilbert when she talked about Martin Luther King Jr. and how at the beginning he was a young man just doing the work.'
Damschroder believes that young people shouldn't view Martin Luther King Jr.'s achievements as unattainable.
“We sort of revere him without understanding that our students have the same capacity to make social change, that same drive to see a better world for themselves and a better future for all of us, and it starts with things like this,” he said.