NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –Hundreds of students eager to volunteer gathered in Kean Hall at Tennessee State University on Saturday for the kick-off of the annual Joint Day of Service in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
A panel of university leaders from various institutions addressed the crowd which included students from TSU, Meharry Medical College, Fisk University, Lipscomb University, Vanderbilt University, Belmont University Trevecca Nazarene University and Nashville State Community College.
“At the essence of service is doing selflessly with little recognition or monetary gain,” said Charlene Oliver, guest speaker for the kick-off and president of Equity Alliance. “Dr. King told us that ‘we need leaders not in love with money, but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity, but in love with humanity.’”
Shirley Nix-Davis, director of outreach for TSU’s Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement, said bringing the students together for this service activity gives students an opportunity to consider the importance of service and how they can help others.
“The goal is not only to engage in acts of service, but for each individual to think about how well they complete the service – to do it to the best of their ability and be proud of what they have done,” Nix-Davis said.
After the program, organizers bused students to various locations where they participated in volunteer service projects.
Sparrow Haynes, a junior human performance sports science major with a concentration in exercise science at TSU, volunteered with a group of students who assisted staff at Hadley Park Regional Center by sanitizing various areas of the facility and setting-up for a father-daughter banquet scheduled for Saturday evening.
“For me, being part of the African community, I feel like it is important for us to keep Dr. King’s legacy going,” said Haynes, a Nashville-native. “I feel like we should give back just like he did for us.”
Alonzo N. Rhodes Sr., program coordinator of Community Recreation at Hadley Park Regional Center, said he hopes the day will inspire students to continue volunteering throughout the year.
“Those students who are dealing with wanting to get out and knowing they need to do services in the community can come to places like this and do those services for their classes and for their internships,” he said. “The small gestures you do really have a great impact. Just coming in and helping us means I’m able to keep my staff at home one time and have the community come out and do it.”
Rhodes, who graduated from TSU in 2001 with a major in human performance and sports science with a minor in criminal justice, said he believes community service helps students get rid of biases and walk in love and understanding.
“When you have a multicultural group it brings a different type of energy. Everybody is involved and engaged in doing something to uplift every community. Everybody is geared towards making Nashville a better community and an inclusive community.”
Darian McGhee, a senior electrical engineering major from Memphis, Tennessee who serves as Mr. TSU, echoed Rhodes sentiment.
“I just think it’s an amazing opportunity anytime you can get a lot of college students together around a united goal, and today that just so happens to be for the MLK Day of Service here at Tennessee State University,” he said.
Nix-Davis said the students volunteered at over 20 sites including the Second Harvest Food Bank, Feed the Children, Grace Eaton Early Learning Center, the Preston Taylor Boys and Girls Club, Trevecca Towers for Seniors, Room In The Inn and The Nashville Food Project.
For more information about TSU’s Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/servicelearning/
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With more than 7,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.