Stockton University honors MLK with annual Day of Service
Chilling wind didn’t stop those honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Nearly 1,000 people participated in Stockton University’s activities inspired by the civil rights leader. “More than 50 years later, the impact of this powerful movement continues to live and breathe among us as we resolve to keep Dr. King’s dream alive and bring it to total fruition,” Stockton President Harvey Kesselman said. “As each and every one of you devotes your time and efforts to today’s day of service, I ask you to consider how you, too, can become a person of impact.” Community service is an important lesson learned by going outside the classroom, noted Stockton Student Senate President Katie Coburn. “It is great to see so many people come to make a difference, to step out of their comfort zone to assist others,” she said. Both in-house and external community partners hosted workshops, seminars, and other activities. In Atlantic City, volunteers cooked and made sandwiches for the Atlantic City Rescue Mission and sorted donated clothes for the Eastern Service Workers. More than 50 South Jersey Industries employees and their families attended the event, helping with various projects at different sites. Jennifer Geria ran a workshop on resume writing for Stockton students. Coordinator Lisa Cottman, a customer service training supervisor, said it was their second year participating. Students also helped organize activities. “It feels so good to be giving back to the community,” said senior Meghan McGowan, activity leader for Books without Borders. “It’s really nerve-wracking being in charge, but it’s worth it because all of this is going to a good cause; all of these books will be sent over to children in need in Lukaya, Uganda.” Senior Margaret Erickson shared McGowan’s enthusiasm regarding service. “The MLK Day of Service is a great way to start the semester every year,” she said. “Stockton is very service-oriented, and this really gets that message out. We’re here together to help each other and the community.” This event — the 15th one by Stockton — has become an annual tradition for many families. Freshman Dominic Bates from Manahawkin has been volunteering with his three younger brothers for more than six years. “Our mom used to make us do this, but now it has become a family bonding activity that we look forward to,” he said. “We get to talk more; we get to connect with each other without electronic devices. We also get to make a difference together, which is cool.” Jack Swenson, a senior at Cedar Creek high school, has also been participating in the MLK Day of Service for many years. Because of his positive experiences, he plans to apply to Stockton in the fall.