By MATT CRANE
Through the efforts of Volunteer Starkville, the Maroon Volunteer Center and AmeriCorps VISTA, the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be celebrated throughout the Starkville and Mississippi State University communities this and next week.
AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer Coordinator Lacy Jaudon said volunteer opportunities begin Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the fourth floor of MSU’s South Hall for a school supply drive.
“We’ll be accepting donations until Monday with drop-off stations in front of Walmart as well as several places around campus,” she said. “On Friday, volunteers will help us sort through the donations that we will give to Starkville and Oktibbeha County schools.”
Jaudon said her work with the VISTA — Volunteers in Service to America — promotes and participates in service projects throughout the year across the country, and said she is excited about the opportunity to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King.
“Part of the call to service is about his legacy of giving back to the community and we’re trying to embrace that,” she said. “The focus this year has been on economic development and in order to do that, you need education. The supply drive will benefit students as well as area teachers.”
Maroon Volunteer Center member Stedmond Ware said the documentary “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — A Man of Peace in a Time of War” will be shown 5:30 p.m. Friday at the J.L. King Center in Starkville.
“The documentary is about Dr. King and his life, focusing on the much more peaceful perspective he had rather the violent alternatives at that time,” he said. “It shows highlights of the entire Civil Rights movement, showcasing the main points of what happened as well as revealing new information that has come to light.”
Ware said the documentary is a great piece of filmmaking and audiences can leave knowing that Dr. King’s dream is not gone.
“The dream has not changed, and even though we have come a long way, there’s still a long way to go,” he said. “There is still a movement for education, change and peace in America.”
Ware said he has been honored to serve in his capacity to gather volunteers for the day of service.
“It’s inspirational to know that we can, in some small way, build his dream in this community,” he said. “The most important thing to remember is that MLK Day is a day on, not a day off.”
Ware said the volunteer opportunities available allow community members to give back and remember how much Dr. King gave to society so that it could become what it is today.
“He was a visionary and he paved the way not only for African Americans, but also society in general in a time when we were supposed to be free, but we were not,” he said. “A time of change is something we still need.”
In an effort to not only celebrate the life of Dr. King, but also provide the city of Starkville with a much needed service, Volunteer Starkville Director Jamey Matte said the organizations will lead volunteers in a beautification project of Brush Arbor Cemetery 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.
“Brush Arbor is the historic African American cemetery in Starkville, and we wanted to show it some attention by beautifying its grounds,” she said. “We thought it would be a perfect fit for the MLK weekends activities we had planned.”
Located on University Drive near City Bagel, Matte said volunteers will learn about the cemetery’s history before proceeding into the clean up process.
“It’s a great source for local history,” she said. “In the past, we have seen a need in the community for beautification projects in our cemeteries.”
Matte said the cemetery is not currently owned by anyone in the city and, as a service to their community, volunteers will be raking leaves and picking up trash.
“As a resident, taking part in any service project and giving back to your community is important,” she said. “Dr. King has a great quotes that says, ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
For more information about volunteer opportunities, call 662-268-2865, 662-625-2208 or visit http://www.tinyurl.com/adtgeo9 .