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Saint Mary’s community honors MLK through Service Saturday

| Monday, January 24, 2022

On Saturday morning, members of the Saint Mary’s community met in Reignbeaux Lounge to take part in the Office for Common Good’s monthly event Service Saturday. This month’s event was inspired by the work of Martin Luther King Jr. and was coined “Serves: MLK Edition.”

The event was organized by the Office for the Common Good (OCG), but was sponsored by numerous student-led groups including Black Student Association, Student Diversity Board, Student Activity Board, Social Work Club, Gerontology Club, Fiat, Better Together, McAllen Trip and the Sisterhood of Service.

The event consisted of six stations where students could put together different gift bags, baskets and personal products for community outreach programs.

Meghan Lange | The Observer
Saint Mary’s students gathered on Saturday morning to serve organizations, like Mahogany Maternity, in the local South Bend community.

One of the programs represented at the event was Saint Joseph County Cares (SJC Cares), whose mission is to provide service and support that identify and meet the needs of children, youth and families. In partnership with SJC Cares, students made gift baskets for people and families who have been affected by suicide.

Student leader for the office, Delia Lopez recognized the importance of serving the South Bend community in Martin Luther King Jr.’s honor.

“I think it’s so important, as college students, entering the South Bend community to also give back to the community and make sure the work that we do is benefitting the whole South Bend area, while we’re on campus learning and growing here,” Lopez said.

Another organization present at the event was Neighbor to Neighbor whose mission is to bring about mutual relationships among South Bend’s immigrant and nonimmigrant population. In accordance with the table working for this organization, the students decorated sugar bowls and added them to gift bags for South Bend’s population of Afghanistan refugees.

Food waste fighter coordinator for the OCG, Akpedze Balo, discussed her unique perspective of Martin Luther King Jr.

“To me, it’s just different because I view him differently than the way others view him,” Balo said. “I see more than what he did as just serving. I do appreciate the fact that people are focusing on serving under his name, under his mission because that’s all he really wanted, for people to serve themselves and their communities, to help them become better.”

At the event, Balo was working with the Mahogany Maternity. The students working with the group decorated bibs and onesies to put in gift baskets for new moms.

“The organization Mahogany Maternity focuses on South Bend’s infant mortality rate,” Balo said. “The woman who runs this organization is a black woman, and also a doula, [so] her whole focus is on mothers and infant care. We’re just helping out by making care baskets for new moms.”

Common good coordinator for the OCG Eliana Sanchez also added, “This organization is so important because Indiana has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country,” Sanchez said. “So, this organization really focuses on supporting new mothers to make sure that, the rate goes down.”

Other local organizations present at the event where Gun Violence Initiative, Care Connections at Milton Village and Boys and Girls Club of St. Joseph County.

When asked why it’s important to honor Martin Luther King through service junior Tess Diamond said, “He [had] such a large scale impact [in] our country,” Diamonds said. “If we can try to make an impact on a smaller level, try to serve the community, maybe not in such a significant way, where everyone would know about it, but if we can change the lives of a couple people by doing these events and serving our local community I think that’s a really good and genuine thing.”

When asked for her opinion on Saturday’s event Sanchez reflected, “For me serving in [MLK’s] name means a radical way of serving the community, and I think that this event is one of the catalyst things to do to serve, this is how to get your foot in the door,” she said. “I’m happy to be a leader here because we’re providing that initial step for students. But to really serve and honor MLK is to go beyond this, and I think that providing that first step for students is amazing.”

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