Sigma Alpha Lambda members made a huge impact on MLK Day of Service for 2017. Over 50 students volunteered in their communities in a variety of ways that made SAL proud and earned them the Drum Major for Service Award!
University of Alabama Birmingham’s SAL chapter joined as a group at their school’s recreation center. After an orientation they worked with other organizations in the community. Member Alexandria Warren cleaned up a local park to make it a better habitat for the animals living there. Kelsey Maclin and VerCherria Goodman cleaned up and beautified Legion Field.
Grand Valley State University Chapter members worked together to decorate lunch bags for the organization Kids Food Basket and also made cards for children at a local children’s hospital. Member Lauren Kavner said of SAL’s participation in this event, “I am extremely grateful to be a part of an organization that is dedicated to giving back to the community as much as I am.” Chapter Vice President Samantha DeGood echoed her sentiment: “I love the feeling of knowing that we have brightened someone’s day no matter what is going on in their life at the time.” Chapter President Nicole Goward volunteered with Reach Studios in Lansing, MI, which provides free and low cost art classes to children and teens in the area whose schools don’t have the funds to maintain these courses. Member Nicole Gustin also made t-shirt tote bags for the community center which uses them for grocery bags.
Many other members worked as individuals to serve during the MLK Day weekend. Alison Martin, a University of Central Oklahoma member, served by working at a local food bank with other students at her school. University of Mississippi’s Jasmine Featherson chose the organization Totes for Hope on MLK Day. They prepared bags of basic life essentials to be distributed to those in need. Noah Manalo from University of Pittsburgh joined his fraternity brothers at Vanadium Village Retirement Home where he played board games with the residents.
Analee Calvillo, a member from Eastern Washington University, volunteered at the American Red Cross installing fire alarms and replacing old fire alarms with new ones in the community. University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Chapter President, Brenna Gentile, volunteered at a hands-on STEM activity day for children. Daniel Travis of Arizona State University helped clean up alley ways by picking up trash, moving old furniture, and raking the area. Daniel Valencia of San Diego State University picked up trash at his local beach. David Lewis, a member at University of Maryland Baltimore County spent the weekend as a volunteer coach for the university student mediation team.
University of Texas Arlington Chapter Members showed up to serve their community. Dwane Tomlin, Chapter President, and Alyssa Dequeant, Chapter VP of Community Service, joined with Arlington Parks and Recreation Department to do landscape work and to clean up and beautify a local sports center. They joined with other SAL members to shovel and spread gravel for new trees and do other general clean-up leftover from a bad storm. Chidinma Azuonye helped to level out the crushed granite that will help grow the trees. UTA member Rachel Aguon volunteered with Mission Arlington. She helped take in donations being dropped off and sorted through them so they could be properly distributed to those in need.
Members at Montclair State University certainly made an impact. Galia Hernandez, Chapter Secretary, arranged food on the shelves of a local food bank. Lexie Morin and Linda Ali helped package medical supplies with MedShare. Hayley Wallitt spent the day at a nursing home playing games and music and listening to the residents. Ashley Aracena and Babee Garcia made thank-you cards for service members. “As a Marine veteran, I understand the sacrifices and the hardships that come within serving the country. I wanted to extend them my gratitude, prayers, and tell them to stay strong,” Babee said.
Jacqueline Estrada, Chapter VP of Community Service at New Mexico State University, volunteered with the homeless at Casa de Peregrinos. NMSU Chapter Treasurer Maria Carmona-Montalvo cleaned up Las Cruces Park. Gabrielle Hardin of Western Michigan University participated in an MLK walk. Western Michigan Chapter Treasurer Nicholas Basak completed his training certificate to do more volunteering with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program.
Matthew Preston of Purdue University held a leadership position in organizing and transporting volunteers for MLK Day of Service. He also served himself by volunteering with Dream Center’s thrift store. “I know that I may not be able to change the whole world in one day, but this MLK Day of Service really made me feel like I changed my corner of it,” Matthew said.
University of Iowa’s Meghan Flynn volunteered at her local hospital’s Burn Treatment Center. She made treatment packages, cleaned up the units and talked to patients. Natasha Infante, University of South Florida member, helped at a homeless shelter for abused women and children. Amber Johnson, El Centro College Chapter’s VP of Community Service, volunteered with Americorps/CitySquare preparing warm kits for the homeless. Kashalyn Johnson, El Centro’s Chapter Treasurer, marched in an MLK parade.
University of North Carolina’s Rosa Park volunteered with UNC Hospital’s Family Dinners Program. She served dinner to family members with a patient in the hospital. Sara Wegner, Chapter VP of Public Relations at University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, made tie-blankets for children at the Ronald McDonald House. Sarah Westlake of Texas A&M University volunteered at Bryan Animal Center. She cleaned out cages, washed the bedding, made sure that the animals had plenty of food and water, and walked the dogs in the field.
Rowan University’s Angela Barolli joined with other students to make more than 800 sandwiches to be distributed to those in need. Rowan’s Stephen Huff participated in MLK Day by volunteering with Operation Yellow Ribbon. He filled boxes formerly used for egg cartons with items that the men and women stationed overseas could use, such as shaving cream, coffee, and toothpaste.
Sumain Hemani of University of Tennessee volunteered at Odd Fellows Cemetery by picking up broken tree branches and trash and cleaning up the headstones of several Civil War veterans’ graves. Tyler Bouslog at Indiana State University helped dust the entire first floor of the local Masonic Lodge. He also helped take down their Christmas tree and swept floors.
The time spent volunteering was touching not just for those who were served, but also for the members who spent time serving. Amy Ehrlich, a member at University of Central Oklahoma, said of her MLK Day experience, “I loved being around people who are just as motivated to working together to accomplish a goal that benefits their community as I am. I witnessed incredible teamwork and leadership without hesitation, and I left with a few new friends as well!” Ashley Carter of University of North Carolina Charlotte shared a similar sentiment. She said, “I am slowly learning that my purpose is bigger than me and I truly believe that I have been called to a lifetime of service to others.” Luyu Wang, VP of Community Service at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, said of the weekend, “This event is a reminder that when we come together, we can do amazing things, and that is one of the greatest lessons that Martin Luther King Jr. has taught us.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. From everyone at SAL Nationals, thanks for your hard work. You are an inspiration!