In honor of MLK Day of Service, UF Student Government is partnering with the Brown Center of Leadership and Service to hold a donation drive for Grace Marketplace, a non-profit organization with a mission to end homelessness in Alachua County.
UF students can contribute to the drive until Feb. 1 by donating supplies such as masks, hand sanitizer and toiletry items at the Reitz Student Union. Packages can be dropped off at the second and third floor front desks in the Student Activities and Involvement Portal or in the Brown Center for Leadership and Service Office in the Reitz Union, according to SG’s Facebook page.
Given that people experiencing homeless are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19, personal protective equipment is highly requested, SG cabinet director for community involvement Elle Chumlongluk said.
“Though it seems small, and though it is just a little item, it does make a difference to the people being serviced by Grace Marketplace in helping end homelessness in Alachua county,” Chumlongluk said.
As of Thursday, 64 items have been donated, Student Activities and Involvement Director Jack Causseaux wrote in an email. He encourages students to get creative and donate any items they believe to be helpful to Grace Marketplace, such as nonperishable food Items, body wash, sunscreen, bandages, toothbrushes and toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner and menstrual products.
The Brown Center of Leadership and Service usually organizes MLK Day of Service, in which students disperse around the city volunteering at different sites to give back to the community, assistant director of Student Activities and Involvement Taylor Stokes said.
On this day, students are directed to different organizations in Gainesville to help with community service, learn about local service opportunities, reflect on diverse social issues and communities and experience the community first-hand, according to the Brown Center for Leadership and Service website.
As an extension of MLK Day of Service, the Brown Center of Leadership and Service teamed up with SG to ensure every UF student has an opportunity to contribute to the community. The drive is an alternative opportunity for students to give back to the community in any way they are comfortable, Stokes said.
“There is always a way to serve and contribute to the community,” she said on Monday. “Especially for MLK day, thinking about what the purpose of today is and how we can honor Dr. King’s legacy, especially around community and civic engagement.”
This year, there was no Monday March in honor of MLK, and the traditional celebration was adapted to remote and socially distanced measures. iVirtual events were held all week long.
Due to COVID-19 guidelines, fewer students were able to volunteer this year, but more than 200 students participated in the event and volunteered with various local? organizations including Grow Hub, Keep Alachua County Beautiful, and Grace Marketplace, Stokes said.
Jazmyn Oberes, a 21-year-old UF finance junior, was one of the 200 students who volunteered Monday. She worked picking up trash along 13th Street cooperating with Keep Alachua County Beautiful, an organization with a mission to beautify, conserve resources, recycle, educate and preserve the community’s environmental legacy.
“Volunteering teaches you the perspective of being a servant for your community and caring about other people’s issues to make sure that you are actively trying to help other people,” Oberes said. “MLK set a great precedent.”
In-person and remote volunteer and community service opportunities for the semester can be found at the SG and Brown Center of Leadership and Service websites.
Contact Carolina Ilvento at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @CarolinaIlvento.
Carolina is a second-year journalism major with a minor in sustainability. In the past, she covered stories and events for WUFT, and she is now reporting on Student Government for The Alligator. Carolina loves to do yoga and go to the beach whenever she isn't writing.