This year, MLK Day became a “day on” instead of a day off for many Messiah students as they served in the greater Harrisburg community. The Agape Center partnered with nine organizations to serve in remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr.
The nine organizations were Paxton Ministries, the Islamic Society of Greater Harrisburg, Silence of Mary Home, Bethesda Women’s Shelter, and five projects within the Allison Hill community including Brethren Housing Association, Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren, bcmPEACE, Christian Churches United, and a lunch prep project for all of the volunteers serving.
Paula Holtzinger, ’18, orchestrated the details for the service day and also served with bcmPEACE. “The goals I had for this day of service were for all of the projects to go smoothly, for the volunteers to gain a deeper sense of appreciation for our greater community (beyond the Messiah bubble), to actually get to know who our neighbors are, and to understand that honoring Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King is more than sharing a picture or quote of him on social media,” said Holtizinger.
Students who participated did a variety of things including doing housekeeping projects and socializing with residents of Paxton ministries. Others raked leaves at the Islamic Society of Greater Harrisburg or prepared food at Silence of Mary Home and Bethesda Women’s Shelter.
Madilyn Keaton, ’18, helped rake leaves at the Islamic Society. “The work our volunteers did saved a lot of cleaning time that would otherwise have to be carried out by people who are already contributing a lot of their time and energy to the running of the mosque,” said Keaton.
Keaton also enjoyed getting to socialize with some of the Muslim volunteers. “I personally had a great conversation with one of the Muslim volunteers about how Islam and Christianity have very similar value systems and how much he appreciated that the female volunteers had covered their heads out of respect for their faith,” said Keaton.
Joseph Keller, ’18, led a group of students to the Silence of Mary home, which is a home for families. The team packed hygiene bags and cataloged their food donations. “One impact that consistently came up in discussions with the volunteers was how the media portrayal of Allison Hill and the homeless population is misleading and wrong,” said Keller.
Kasandra Grab, the Volunteer Coordinator at Paxton Ministries, was grateful for the time students took to come serve. “Our residents appreciated the students playing bingo and joining them for lunch. We love having Messiah College students serve here,” said Grab.
MLK service day helped students put their faith and love of neighbors into action. “After reviewing feedback from both our community partners and our volunteers I believe the day was very successful,” said Holtzinger.