Walsh University commemorated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a variety of service activities to benefit organizations all over Stark County.

Walsh University commemorated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a variety of service activities to benefit organizations all over Stark County. Students, athletic teams, faculty and staff all got involved in one or more of the planned activities.

Groups worked with a range of organizations such as those working with homelessness, hunger, elderly care and education. Stacey Gardner-Buckshaw, director of service learning at Walsh, said one of the first of many activities, The Food Security Project, was held before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

“We had over 50 students come out to help us pack lunches for 700 elementary school-aged kids for three different school districts,” Gardner-Buckshaw.

The three districts receiving packed lunches were Canton City, Massillon City and Perry Local Schools. The lunches included nutritious foods and snacks. Each bag had cans of soup, oranges, a box of macaroni and cheese, crackers, cereal and other foods.

“This is the first time we've participated in packing lunches for kids. While most kids look forward to a three-day weekend, children in need often go hungry because they depend on their school to serve them breakfast and lunch,” Gardner-Buckshaw said. “Usually, the Stark County Hunger Task Force works with the Sherrick Road Church of God and Canton Calvary Mission to pack lunches for kids to take home over the weekend, every weekend. Our students helped give those volunteers the weekend off and we packed those lunches for the three day weekend.”

Walsh received a $2,000 grant from the National Campus Compact. The university used the money to purchase the food for the lunches and to purchase nutritious snacks for the project.

The service event was scheduled over a full afternoon and evening on Jan. 13. There were so many students who wanted to help that the lunches and snacks were packed and ready to deliver within three hours. Walsh worked with the Stark County Hunger Task Force and two local bulk food retail stores to buy the food.

There were several groups of students involved with the project. They included the Blouin Leaders in Social Justice, the Black Student Union, Campus Ministry, Student Government Veterans Commission and several athletic groups.

“Our students love to do this kind of work especially when kids are involved,”Garnder-Buckshaw said. “Many of our students are from local school districts and they like to see their schools benefit. We had so much success with this first event that it has really excited the students and me for our larger full day of service on Feb. 18. This was a great start.”

On the holiday, Walsh students celebrated the spirit of Dr. King with a series of community service events. Groups of students volunteered to spend the day at Stark Parks, Stark Fresh, United Way of Stark County, Refuge of Hope, Alliance Catholic Worker, Lake Township FISH, House of Loreto, Immigrant Worker Project, North Canton Public Library and Bethany Assisted Living.

Plus, Walsh student-athletes also volunteered at Louisville and North Canton YMCAs, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club of Massillon, Rose Lane Nursing Home, St. Luke's Assisted Living and Our Lady of Peace Catholic School.

The day was topped off with a reflection dinner at the Barrette Business and Community Center. All volunteers gathered for a buffet dinner and to reflect about their day of service.