CSULB seeks volunteers for annual Martin Luther King Jr. event

To commemorate the contributions of the late civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr., the Office of Multicultural Affairs will be hosting an event in which students can participate in community-wide volunteer work.

Students must register for the third annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service through BeachSync by Feb. 9 to participate in the event on Friday, Feb. 16 and will receive their specified volunteer location through BeachSync on Feb. 12.

King was known as an influential individual distinguished by his advocacy for non-violent protest and kindness during the civil rights movement. Volunteers nationwide will commemorate by serving their community in his name.

The first time the event occured at Cal State Long Beach was 2016, a year after the Office of Multicultural Affairs was established.

I was surprised we [Long Beach] didn’t have a MLK Jr. Day of Service,” said Christian Lozano, assistant director of the office of multicultural affairs. “It was something I had done on other campuses that I had always seen bring various students together for the call of service. It’s at these unique events you really get to see the diversity of the population coming together for one cause.

Typically observed in February to celebrate Black History Month, the service day begins at 8:30 a.m. on campus with volunteers meeting for a free breakfast.

After breakfast, students find their way to their to designated sites by their own means of transportation. The day ends at 3 p.m with volunteers leaving their site and provides an opportunity for about 60 to actively volunteer alongside organizations within Long Beach in honor of. Martin Luther King Jr.

Cyndy Garcia, student development fellow, is in charge of what she deems the behind-the-scenes planning for the service day, which includes creating icebreakers such as interactive games and coordinating with local partners.

New to the community of Cal State Long Beach and excited to get to know the campus, Garcia is enthused to hold her first day of service.

“I’m excited to give students an opportunity to volunteer with their friends with members of their clubs or organizations,” said Garcia. “And for them to meet new people as well and stretch their comfort zone a little bit when giving back.”

One way she encourages students to participate is by offering free t-shirts to the first 50 volunteers who sign up online. Group members must include the name of your organization to be assigned to the same location. Breakfast and lunch will be provided on campus.

This year the Office of Multicultural Affairs will partner up with the Long Beach Rescue Mission, Food Finders, Salvation Army Long Beach and Long Beach community gardens, all of whom will provide locations where the volunteers can service the community. Each offers a service to the community of Long Beach and provides a unique hands on experience of what their organization does for volunteers who participate in the event.

Some students spend the day tending to community gardens in Long Beach, which in turn generates food for those in need of food within the community. Others spend the day collecting food and clothing donations for children and families in need or volunteering at the Long Beach Rescue Mission.

Ashley Dawkins, a student assistant at the Cal State Long Beach Pan-African Center who helped organize this year’s event, encourages her contemporaries to step out of their comfort zone this Black History Month.

“Volunteering gives us a different perspective on life and brings us back to our roots,” said Dawkins, a sophomore speech and language pathology major. “We’re all just people and seeing people eye to eye on that level is a very humbling experience. It connects people to the original root of life, which is love.”

Long Beach students who are not necessarily involved in multicultural affairs on campus have also shown interest in the event. One such student is Maya Abed from San Diego, who used to spend Saturdays teaching at a school in Tijuana.

“I think it would be really fun to help with MLK day and volunteer,” said Abed, a freshman communications major. “Volunteering is important because it brings a sense of fulfillment to yourself and to your community. Others thrive and you thrive.”

Students will meet at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 16 at the University Student Union southwest terrace before dispersing to volunteer.

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