CCI participants at Houston Community College distribute food to at risk community members.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service 2022

Throughout late January, Community College Initiative (CCI) Program participants studying across the United States observed the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service by engaging in a variety of service and learning activities on campus and in the community.

At Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), CCI participants joined their host college’s 13th annual MLK Day of Service event. CCI participants spent the afternoon writing handmade thank you letters to Fairfax County Public Schools teachers, support staff, and administrators for distribution in February. The events of the day ended with a viewing of a video message of Dr. King’s legendary “I Have A Dream” speech as recited by a few of NOVA’s students, staff, and faculty.

A collection of thank you cards made by a participant at Northern Virginia Community College for teachers, staff, and administrators of Fairfax County Public Schools.

Meanwhile, in Illinois, CCI participants at College of DuPage (COD) volunteered to honor the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, a facility that distributes foodstuffs to more than 700 good pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other programs in the region.

At both Fox Valley Technical College in Wisconsin and the Community College of Baltimore County in Maryland participants volunteered their time supporting local food banks with organization and distribution.

In Cedar Rapid, Iowa participants at Kirkwood Community College spent the day at the Central Furniture Rescue where they helped organize the warehouse, receive and sort donations, and package first home kits for families transitioning out of homelessness. Later, participants had the impactful opportunity to assist in the delivery of furniture to transitioning families.

CCI participants at Houston Community College joined volunteers of Kids Lives Matter International to help prepare and serve meals for at-risk families and senior citizens in their community. The meals were prepared in a “Grab and Go” fashion allowing anyone from the community who is facing food insecurity to simply walk up and receive free meals.

CCI participants at Houston Community College prepare and distribute food to community members facing food insecurity.

In Dayton, Ohio CCI participants attending Sinclair Community College partnered with the National Conference for Community and Justice of Greater Dayton to collect, donate, and organize supply donations for a local backpack drive that provides at-risk youth with much-needed school supplies.

Devoting themselves to Dr. King’s message of unity, participants at Snow College partnered with Moroni Elementary School for an exciting pen-pal program. During the program, CCI participants wrote the first of a total of 14 letters each to their pen-pal with the goal of building intercultural bridges and understanding. Ultimately, if permitting, the participants will meet with their pen-pals in person at the end of the semester to talk further about what they learned about one another’s culture, story, and the importance of higher education. Another exciting facet of the program, is Moroni Elementary’s status as a dual immersion institution, giving students who are learning Spanish an opportunity to become pen pals with Spanish-speaking CCI participants.

At Valencia College, the cohort of participants, led by those in the agriculture field of study, worked on habitat restoration at Oakland Nature Preserve. Participants removed invasive species of plants, prepared soil, and planted native flora. After the volunteering event, participants toured the preserve grounds to learn more about the rich species of flora and fauna found at the nature preserve.

Similarly, at Jamestown Community College participants volunteered at the Audubon Community Nature Center. At the center, the cohort of international students spent time assisting in maintaining the facilities and grounds as well as conducting trail clean up and repair.

CCI participants at Jamestown Community College pose for a group photo with their nature center guides after a day of volunteerism and sustainability education.

In Pennsylvania, participants at Northampton Community College volunteered at Camel’s Hump Farm a local nature education center and community garden. The Northampton participants organized and separated inventory for the farm’s community daycare helped to maintain some of the farmhouse facilities and assisted in prepping soil cups for young plants to sprout in before being planted in the community garden.

Cohorts also used MLK Day as an opportunity to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement and African-American history and culture. CCI participants at Community College of Baltimore County viewed a Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s Birthday by the National Civil Rights Museum. At Sinclair Community College the participants toured the Underground Railroad Museum learning about the long-lasting impacts of slavery on the U.S. Lastly, in downtown Orlando, Florida participants visited the Wells’ Built Museum of African American History. The museum was a hotel during segregation and was featured in the Academy Award-winning film Green Book. The building has since been converted to a museum that celebrates local African American History and Civil Rights leaders. Former guests at the hotel include Thurgood Marshall, B.B. King, Ray Charles, and Ella Fitzgerald.

CCI participants at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida stand together with their tour guide after a day of reflection and observation at the Wells’ Built Museum of African American History.

By observing the MLK Day of Service as a “day on, not a day off,” CCI participants gained valuable insight into the values and legacy of Dr. King and the ripple effect of his words and actions within U.S. history, culture, and politics.


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Written by Evan T. Flatt, Alumni Relations and Communications Coordinator
Posted in Cultural Exchange, Participants, Volunteering.