GW, renowned for service, leaps onto Obama's challenge

by Chloé Sorvino

A second service day will take place on Jan. 19 due to the clash of the inauguration and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this year. The regular Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service will still take place on Jan. 26.
Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo
A second service day will take place on Jan. 19 due to the clash of the inauguration and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this year. The regular Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service will still take place on Jan. 26.

The University is organizing a second service event to recognize the civil rights movement because the original date clashed with inauguration weekend.

Students can volunteer with the Unite America in Service event Jan. 19, in addition to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service Jan. 26. It is the first time the service day honoring King has coincided with inauguration festivities.

Nearly 200 students are slated to participate in the Jan. 19 service day, with 250 students – the full capacity for the event – committing to serving Jan. 26, as of last week. About 400 students served at last year’s MLK Day of Service.

GW will coordinate with National Day of Service efforts, part of the president's inauguration service challenge. Volunteers will pack 100,000 care kits for deployed U.S. service members, wounded soldiers, veterans and first responders. The event, coordinated by the nonprofit Point of Lights and Target Corporation and cosponsored by several other service groups, will be held near the D.C. Armory.

“It will allow our students to serve alongside volunteers from across D.C. and with people who have traveled to D.C. from across the country to participate in the inauguration festivities,” Executive Director of the Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service Amy Cohen said. She added that serving on that day is important because the President asked all Americans to take part.

Rap artists Pharrell Williams and MC Lyte will serve alongside volunteers, and University President Steven Knapp will speak, among others.

Over the next few weeks, the Multicultural Student Services Center is also launching a series of events commemorating black history, including the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, this fall. Programs will include lecture series, awards ceremonies and other service events.

“For me, this is one of the first all-University community-oriented approaches to diversity and inclusion programming,” Director of the MSSC Michael Tapscott said. “It’s a really, really great kick-off to this part of the celebration.”

The University is also planning a culminating service day, specifically focused on the March on Washington, which will be held once students return to campus in the fall.

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