Stockton’s Martin Luther King Day of Service
Every year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the country is encouraged to take part in a day of service on the federal holiday.
According to the U.S Department of the Interiors website, “Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service (MLK Day) is the only federal holiday that is also designated by Congress as a national day of service‚ a ‘day on, not a day off.’ Participation in service activities has grown each year as more Americans are encouraged to provide meaningful change in their communities. Whether service meets a tangible need, such as fixing up a school or senior center, builds a sense of community or mutual responsibility.”
As part of the MLK Day of Service, every year Stockton University organizes an effort to come together and give back to their community. This year Stockton volunteers came to Hammonton and helped out Eagle Theatre on Vine St.
“This year Stockton and Hammonton are volunteering with the Eagle Theatre just to organize their theater space and costumes before they have an upcoming show,” said Nick Zebrowski, Marketing, Events and Student Services Specialist at Stockton University’s Kramer Hall.
Stockton puts together an effort on every MLK Day of Service and also had plans to help other organizations this year until weather and concerns about COVID-19 forced them to cancel.
“It’s incredibly impactful to the community. We have people that come out every year to volunteer. We have a lot of community partners that reach out to us in preparation for today. Unfortunately, due to COVID and weather concerns, some of our other community partners canceled, but we’re still happy to support the Eagle. But yeah, it’s very important that the university just reaches out and help out the community wherever we can,” Zebrowski said.
This year, Hammonton High School’s Leo Club partnered up with Stockton and helped clean up the Eagle Theatre. Students spent their day off from school giving back to their community and Leo Club advisor and Hammonton High School teacher, Marissa Carrafiello, was thrilled to see students having so much fun doing it.
“The Leo Club is a club devoted to community service and this was the perfect opportunity to give these kids some service hours and get them out here to help the community,” Carrafiello said. “You look at these kids and they’re having a ball. They’re laughing and they’re enjoying it and to me that is the biggest reward. I think that’s so much fun to see them have fun. They don’t care what they’re doing, they know that they’re helping and that’s the best part of it.”
The Eagle Theatre is starting to return to a more normal sense of activity and the Leo Club was happy to help them get ready for it.
“They have a workshop that, because of COVID and everything being closed, it sort of just became a throw all of everything. Since COVID is kind of hitting its peak and they’re starting to reopen things, they’re trying to get this theater back into working order and they need that workshop cleaned out. So that is what we’re going to do today,” Carrafiello said.
The Leo Club wasn’t able to partake in any events on MLK Day last year because of COVID-19 so when Carrafiello and the club heard about the opportunity this year, they wasted no time getting involved.
Not even the blistering cold and rain clouding the day could stop students and new members to the Leo Club, like junior Sophia Mybure, from enjoying themselves.
“I just like helping out the community whenever I can. This is my first year doing Leo Club but I’m having a pretty good time,” Mybure said.
The Leo Club helps the community in other ways as well, including food drives, coat drives, in which the most recent the club was able to donate 105 coats, and road cleanups.