Division of Student Services

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

Why Serve on MLK Day?

Dr. King recognized the power of service to strengthen communities and achieve common goals. As he once said, “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.” King Day of Service honors that legacy by seeking to transform the holiday from simply a day off from school or work for millions of Americans to a day ON-that is, a day of community service that strengthens communities, empowers individuals, bridges social barriers, and moves us closer to the “Beloved Community” that Dr. King worked toward.

About the Day 

Each year on the third Monday of January, schools, federal offices, post offices, and banks across America close as we celebrate the birth, the life, and the dream of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is a time for the nation to remember the injustices that Dr. King stood against, but more importantly the basic rights he stood for: equality, freedom, and dignity of all races and peoples. Dr. King furthered his cause in a spirit of nonviolence that took the world by storm.

And in the spirit of taking the world by storm, in the spirit of Dr. King's dream, SEEDS offers service trips from Reed to all of its students, faculty, and staff members so that they, too, can make the world a better place.

Past Projects

MLK Day 2010: This year Reed was honored to join 10 other local colleges and universities in a joint celebration and day of service entitled "We are the Dream". Over 1200 students, staff, faculty and their families participated. The day of service started with a rally hosted by Concordia University. It included a performance by the local King Elementary School Choir, and a keynote speech delivered by Pastor Mark Strong of Life Change Christian Center. In addition, local pastor Emmett Wheatfall delivered Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Photos are available on the Oregon Campus Compact Flickr page.

Following the rally, students were transported to one of 50 project sites around Portland. The projects were planned with the assistance of Hands On Greater Portland and the United Way of the Columbia-Willamette. The various projects include refurbishing schools, non-profit organizations, and community centers. Many community organizations will also use the day to sign up mentors and tutors for the coming year, and to encourage youth to make a pledge of non-violence.

The day concluded with a reflection discussion among students about the impact of Dr. King’s life work on their own lives, as well as how they would continue their involvement in the future. Reed's participation was sponsored by SEEDS and Multicultural Affairs.

MLK Day 2009: SEEDS partnered with the Portland Chapter of the Reed Alumni Association and Hands on Portland for a fun day of service at David Douglas School District. District librarians guided us through covering hardback and paperback books, protecting them for future use at various school libraries in the district. David Douglas is one the largest and most ethnically diverse school districts in Oregon--and the poverty rate of the adults in the David Douglas High School District is high and continues to grow. Currently, over 64% of students receive a free or reduced lunch, an indicator of high poverty. We supported librarians, teachers, and students; encouraging reading; and protecting library books, a precious resource!

MLK Day 2007: Service at the ReBuilding Center and the Sisters of the Road March and Rally.

A fun and "physically exhilarating" experience of helping to organize and move building materials. The ReBuilding Center is a popular destination for homeowners, do-it-yourselfers, contractors, artists, and enthusiasts interested in building with affordable, environmentally low impact materials. With an inventory that changes by the hour, The ReBuilding Center is the largest non-profit used building materials resource in North America. The ReBuilding Center plays an important role in the region's effort to maintain livable neighborhoods, preserve natural resources, and reduce reusable materials from entering the wastestream. With widespread community support, The ReBuilding Center diverts 4.5 million pounds of reusable building materials from entering our landfills each year. 

On MLK Day 2006, we spent 2 hours painting and otherwise brightening up the new Children's Room at Project Unica, a program of Catholic Charities that serves Latina, primarily Spanish-speaking survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their children. We put up shelves, built a toy box and painted a mural. Project Unica provides childcare in this room for kids whose mothers are attending a support group or meeting with their advocate for support and case management.

Click on the thumbnails below to see full-size photos of busily painting Reedies and the finished children's room.

Contact SEEDS

Tara Sonali Miller
SEEDS Program Manager
Student Center 112

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