By STEVEN NALLEY
Mississippi State University’s South Hall Forum Room hosted the Bone-Making Fall Finale for the One Million Bones project Tuesday, but the project’s leader is making plans to extend bone-making events into the early spring semester.
One Million Bones is part of a fundraising challenge offered by the Students Rebuild Initiative. Participating volunteers create clay artwork bones that each generate a $1 donation to help those affected by genocide in Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In spring 2013, the bones will also be spread across Washington D.C.’s National Mall in an art instillation aimed at calling the U.S. government to act against genocide.
Antoinette Jenkins, a senior at MSU, is the Mississippi site coordinator for One Million Bones. She said the fall finale drew significant attention, despite many participants being art students with end-of-semester portfolios requiring their time.
“I think (One Million Bones) is going really well,” Jenkins said. “The students seem to be really responsive to the project and they seem to really enjoy it since they can have a more personal experience with how they’re giving to this benefit.”
Jenkins said there is still a long way to go to meet the project’s goals. Every site coordinator is responsible for 7,000 bones, she said, and she estimates MSU’s three bone-making sessions have generated 2,100 bones.
“I felt with the different departments that are interested, we would be at least halfway done (by now), but I am pleased with the amount of progress we’ve made with the bones,” Jenkins said. “They told me to have them all in by Jan. 15, but they’re probably not going to go and get them from our state ... until March. We’re going to do another one in the spring. I don’t have the exact date for that, but we will probably reserve the (Colvard Student Union) ballroom, and we’re going to see what they have available.”
Jenkins said the 2,100 bones do not include those made outside MSU. She is also coordinating bone-making events at Jackson State University and Mississippi University for Women, and she hopes for them to contribute more in January as well.
“We also have local (secondary) schools that are participating — Armstrong Middle School with (Keegan) Love’s class and Starkville Academy with (Robin) Pigg’s class,” Jenkins said. “Just the fact that we’ve gotten over the 1,000- and 2,000-bone landmarks has given me hope to continue the bone-making project, because we’ve gotten really positive feedback.”
Jenkins said she is grateful to all the volunteers that have participated in One Million Bones, including those who have volunteered to help set up and clean up. Two MSU departments — the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center and the MSU Human Sciences Department — have also held bone-making events of their own, she said, and she is particularly grateful for help from the Maroon Volunteer Center.
Meggan Franks, MVC program coordinator, said the MVC has recruited between 20 and 85 volunteers for each of the MSU bone-making events. She said she is impressed with the scale of the project Jenkins has taken on.
“To see the passion she put into it, it says a lot about the students we have here at the university,” Franks said. “The great thing is, (the project is) unique. You have all these students putting their unique touches on their bones.”
Franks said the bone-making events are popular, with many students staying for three or four hours. The events also bring together many students who might not otherwise meet, she said.
“It’s not just service; they’re networking and making new friends,” Franks said. “It also creates ambassadors for the project. One thing I’ve seen with One Million Bones is that (volunteers) will show up for the first one and then show up again the second and third time, but (they will) meet new people each time.”