MLK Day sparks student service

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Mark Haver

Florida Southern College packed nearly 400 meals for the local nonprofit kidsPACK at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Impact in Jenkins Field House on Monday.

This event, coordinated by the Multicultural Student Council (MSC), Student Government Association (SGA) and Center for Student Involvement (CSI) featured a speech by alumna Evett Simmons. Simmons, a prominent lawyer, may be recognizable thanks to her donation of the Evett L. Simmons Center for Multicultural Appreciation to the school. 

After listening to her speech on how to apply King’s values of justice to the current immigration crisis at the United States-Mexico border, students were invited by SGA Vice President of Communications Madelyn Walsh to assist in packing meals for kidsPACK.

kidsPACK started in 2006 with the mission of providing weekend meals for children who may not receive meals outside of what they eat during the school day. Walsh said that the local philanthropy served 1,700 students last year who were homeless or food-impoverished.

“We know that there are 4,520 registered homeless children in Polk County,” executive director of kidsPACK Amy Royal said. “We work with the school administration who identifies the need and recommends students for the program.”

With more than 100 students who attended the event, students were able to pack 375 meals for Polk County children within 30 minutes of the start of the service activity.

Last year, SGA worked with three nonprofits for the annual service event. 

“This is our third year in a row working with kidsPACK and improving the relationship with local nonprofits,” SGA President Natalie Barton said.

At the 2018 MLK Day of Impact, students packed over 200 meals for kidsPACK, created over 100 dog toys for Lakeland SPCA and painted 100 picture frames for Habitat for Humanity. 

Students enjoyed participation in the event. 

“Best thing SGA has done in years,” sophomore Sebastian Mendoza said.

The event was free and open to students and members of the community. While the meals packed on Monday were of no cost, feeding one child through kidsPACK for an entire year costs $300.

 “Everyone has smiles on their faces, and they’re dancing around as they’re waiting,” Royal said. “It’s wonderful that everyone came out on MLK Day to give back to the community.”

More than 430 students are on the waiting list to receive meals from kidsPACK. People who may be interested in continuing this community service activity may make donations to the nonprofit by visiting the organization’s website: kidspack.org. 

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