Bucknell students help community to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

Jan. 25—LEWISBURG — Bucknell University seniors Colleen Linko and Meghan Quinn said they volunteer their time to give back to those in less privileged places.

Linko, of Princeton, N.J., and Quinn, of Lititz, participated on Thursday in the MLK Day of Bison Community Engagement with Bucknell Athletics at the Elaine Langone Center's Terrace Room. In partnership with Bucknell University's Martin Luther King Jr. Week theme of "Sustaining Social Movements," students, faculty and staff had the opportunity to engage in a variety of community engagement activities throughout campus, during which they also learned more about several Susquehanna Valley organizations and agencies.

"I really like engaging with the Lewisburg community and other places around here," said Linko. "We are coming from a very privileged place and I like to help others who have less privileged opportunities."

Quinn said the community supports the students and the athletic programs.

"It's rewarding to give back and know what we're doing is a direct pipeline to helping organizations and businesses and schools around the local area," she said.

Both Linko and Quinn, who are part of Bison Cares, a community engagement group of student-athletes, oversaw the school supply station. Volunteers sorted and packaged pencils, markers and gluesticks to support the needs of local elementary schools and their students as they return to the classroom following the holidays. Volunteers also wrote notes of encouragement to students.

There were three opportunities to volunteer: twice during the day at the Terrace Room for all and once in the evening for athletes only at the Gerhard Fieldhouse Classroom.

Other service opportunities included Jared Boxes, which volunteers created using a box filled with small gifts, toys, games, crayons, coloring books and other fun activities to give the "gift of play" to children in Evangelical Community Hospital; Community Harvest, where volunteers wrote notes to be included with the warm meals served to families in the community experiencing food insecurity; and snack packs, where volunteers wrote notes to be included with snacks distributed to students at Lewisburg Area School District experiencing food insecurity.

Volunteers could also participate in Operation Gratitude, where they wrote thank you notes/cards to service members, veterans, and first responders. They could make No-Sew Fleece blankets for Project Linus to provide blankets to keep kids warm. They could assemble housewarming baskets with household supplies to be distributed to families receiving furniture from the DIG Furniture Bank. They could also repot succulents and decorate the pots for residents at Brookdale Grayson View Senior Living.

Eline Vermeulen, the associate athletic director, of student-athlete enrichment at Bucknell University, said 100 students, faculty and community members were expected to volunteer their time on Thursday.

"We started this initiative three years ago," said Vermeulen, a member of the MLK Week Committee. "We wanted students to be part of Dr. King's mission of community service and giving back."

The student-athletes are "really passionate" about giving back, she said.

Bucknell's MLK Week started Jan. 15 and continues today with MLK Week Community Lunch: Where Do We Go From Here? at noon in the Elaine Langone Center's Terrace Room. The small table conversations will center on how to sustain social movements and build community at Bucknell.