The Volunteers are honoring Martin Luther King Jr. with the MLK Day of Service.

The Center for Leadership and Service will be holding its annual service day for MLK Day on Jan. 13 from 8:00 a.m. to noon. The event will include a light breakfast, a speaker with a connection to the Knoxville community and a visit to various service locations in Knoxville.

“The 2018 MLK Day of Service is a great way for students to give back to the Knoxville community,” Natalie Frankel, graduate assistant for the Center for Leadership and Service, said.

Students can expect to create student connections and learn more about the community of Knoxville while engaging in conversations about their service through reflective dialogues following the service day.

“It is easy for college students to stay in their university bubble, but Knoxville is a great city with wonderful community partners who need volunteers,” Frankel said. “This day offers an opportunity to do something outside of UT and learn more about Knoxville and Dr. King's legacy.”

Kiah Albritton, senior in public relations, said that the service day indeed made her feel more connected to Knoxville when she participated.

“It is really important to understand the city that we live in and appreciate all the people and the experiences that they are having, so it helped me feel a lot more connected to the city of Knoxville my freshman year,” Albritton said.

Student participation over the year has grown in size, and more than 400 students observed MLK Day last year, participating in service projects with Keep Knoxville Beautiful, Knoxville Reanimation Coalition, Water Angel Ministries and other organizations.

“I think that MLK day will always be relevant because the message of love and acceptance and stability … those are things we need now more than ever,” Albritton said.

Supporters and organizers encourage people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to participate in the MLK Day of service and other projects that have lasting impacts on the community.

“The most successful projects connect to the life and teaching of Dr. King, meet a pressing community need and include time to reflect on his teachings,” Frankel said.

In previous years, the Clifton M. Jones Student Leadership Conference and MLK Day of Service have been celebrated in unison as one all-day event for 15 years; this year the MLK Day of Service will be held alone for the first time.

In the past, other UT offices have held events to honor MLK Day and have included events that raise awareness of current issues pertinent to students, both on and off campus, like the Candlelight Vigil Against Racism. And this year, the Office of Multicultural Student Life has scheduled civil rights activist DeRay McKesson to speak on campus on Monday, Jan. 22.

“Observing the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday through service is a way to begin each year with a commitment to making your community a better place,” Frankel said. “Your service honors Dr. King’s life and teachings and helps meet national challenges.”

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