The University of Notre Dame announced last fall that, for the first time, Martin Luther King Jr. Day would be a holiday for students, faculty, and staff.
With no classes scheduled for the day, each member of the community would be free to honor King’s legacy in their own way. Notre Dame Law School took the opportunity to start a new tradition by giving law students, faculty, and staff the option of participating in a variety of service projects throughout the day.
On Monday, January 17, Notre Dame Law School held its first Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service to celebrate the spirit of the civil rights leader’s unwavering fight for racial and social justice.
More than 130 law students, faculty, and staff members signed up to spend part of the day volunteering for local nonprofit organizations.
Some of the projects for those organizations were completed by teams inside the Law School buildings, while other volunteers traveled out in the South Bend community to serve the nonprofits on site.
“I am so proud of our students, faculty, and staff for their passionate engagement in our inaugural Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service,” said G. Marcus Cole, the Joseph A. Matson Dean and Professor of Law at Notre Dame Law School. “Over 100 students, and more than 30 faculty and staff gave of themselves to serve those within the South Bend community. These people give meaning to our ideal of ‘a different kind of lawyer.’”
In one of the projects at the Law School, volunteers cooperated to make no-sew fleece blankets for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Michiana.
Working at tables in Eck Commons, the group turned 200 yards of fleece into 50 warm, colorful blankets for guests of the Ronald McDonald House in downtown South Bend.
At the other end of Eck Commons, volunteers set up an assembly line to package 5,000 meals for Pack Away Hunger.
Also in the Law School, volunteers assembled 45 care kits for Logan Center clients. The kits included art supplies and games as well as toiletries and other personal care items.
Off campus, volunteers assembled tables and deconstructed wood pallets at Corvilla Inc.’s new storefront location, delivered meals to clients of REAL Services Inc., organized the food pantry at St. Margaret's House, did some deep cleaning at St. Peter Claver Catholic Worker House, stocked the food pantry and assembled boxes of food for deliveries at St. Vincent de Paul Society, and assisted the Volunteer Lawyer Network with intake and information gathering.
At Cultivate Food Rescue, a group of 20 students, faculty, and staff bagged 5,400 meals, processed 400 meals, labeled 2,000 trays. “They were all such a joy to have,” said Shelly Alwine, volunteer services and special events coordinator at Cultivate. “Law students work hard!”
Law School volunteers also collected and delivered donated items for the Center for the Homeless and Dismas House, which provides transitional housing and services for people recently released from incarceration.
“This event was a great opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to come together to honor one of our nation’s greatest heroes,” said Stephanie Wong, a third-year law student and president of Notre Dame Law School’s Student Bar Association. “I’m also grateful to make an impact on the local South Bend community during my last year here.”
Click here to see a larger photo gallery from Notre Dame Law School’s inaugural Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.