MU volunteers perform Day of Service around city

January 26, 2019
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Marshall University volunteer Seirra Running helps children stuff plush Marcos during a Build-A-Bison event as part of MLK Day of Service on Friday at Ebenezer Community Outreach in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — The grand scope of Marshall University’s impact on the Huntington area, even before the city’s founding, is immeasurable academically, financially and culturally.

But a few days out of the year, volunteers chip in their most valuable resource — their time — to physically lend a hand in the city’s needs of less grandeur but undeniable importance: hammering nails, cleaning a shelter cat’s litter or perhaps simply being a smiling face for a day-care child.

Around 70 student, faculty and community volunteers spread out across Huntington for the university’s winter Day of Service all day Friday, timed to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday was celebrated Monday.

Marshall’s Days of Service (another takes place in October) are an opportunity for the university to participate in various service projects aimed at addressing social problems such as poverty, hunger and housing.

“Each time we do this, we have absolutely no trouble filling all the volunteer slots,” said Will Holland, Marshall’s director of Community Outreach and Volunteer Services. “Marshall has a long tradition in giving back to this community, and I think that’s what we’re continuing with this event.”

Seven sites in Huntington benefited from volunteer work: the Huntington Cabell Wayne Animal Shelter, Huntington City Mission, Ebenezer

Day Care, Facing Hunger Foodbank, Habitat for Humanity, Marshall’s Sustainability Department and the Ronald McDonald House of Hunting-ton.

It’s a small way to contribute in the grand scheme of it all, but it’s the type people remember, Holland said.

“It’s very clear where (Marshall President) Dr. (Jerome) Gilbert stands on bettering the relationship with the community, and he’s passionate about it and the differences it makes,” he added. “Marshall is part of Huntington, and Huntington is part of Marshall.”

At the Habitat for Humanity workshop along 10th Avenue, a mostly female construction team hammered away at wall frames for a soon-to-be Habitat house. White-splotched painters rolled globs of paint on what would become the home’s door.

Talena Justice and Marleigh Harbour stood over a skeleton of boards driving nail after nail with authority.

“It’s awesome to see things physically come together, like the doors,” said Justice, a master of social work student from Lewisburg, West Virginia.

“And those,” Harbour said, motioning to a pile of 10-foot-tall wall frames, “we nailed those out in like 15 minutes.”

It was made even sweeter when the recipient of the future

Habitat home dropped in to see the first bits of her new house coming together by volunteer help.

“It’s really emotional,” said Harbour, a senior physical therapy student from Lynchburg, Virginia. “I wasn’t expecting her to be here. I can physically see the happiness on her face as we’re building this house, and she gets to watch it come to life.”

“Marshall has a long tradition in giving back to this community, and I think that’s what we’re continuing with this event.”

Will Holland

director of Community Outreach and Volunteer Services at Marshall

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