UMSL juniors David Becker and Nathan Bowman hoist boxes of furniture into the Missouri Baptist Children's Home Jan. 17, part of MLK Day of Service.

More than 200 volunteers, most of them students, fanned out from the University of Missouri–St. Louis campus Monday morning bringing the national Martin Luther King Day of Service to St. Louis. They came, said one student, “Because when you help the community along with other people, it means a lot more.”

Organized by the Office of Student Life, the day included painting the parent resource room at Normandy Middle School next door to the UMSL campus, moving furniture into new space at Missouri Baptist Children’s Home in Bridgeton and creating murals on the walls at Girls Inc. in Normandy, Mo. There were 12 sites in all with teams led by a UMSL faculty or staff member and a student.

“This is a great opportunity for our students to see how small changes can make a big impact on our community, the area around UMSL,” said Ashlee Young, a graduate assistant in student life. “It also allows students to see how they fit into the community.”

Mariah Hassert, 19, is a sophomore majoring in biology. She’s been working on her leadership skills and helped lead a group of 20 volunteers who painted restrooms at the Logos School an alternative middle and high school in Olivette, Mo. Participating in the MLK Day of Service initiative just seemed right to her.

“I’m here for lots of reasons,” Hassert said. “Martin Luther King is one of my heroes. “And I come from a very small town where people are very close. We reach out and help one another.”

Behind the scenes, Office of Student Life organizers reported the day was a big success.

“We got a lot of interest from students who wanted to volunteer on an ongoing basis,” said Jaime Wacker, a graduate assistant in student life. “And we had five students work overtime for three hours at Normandy Middle School Monday. They didn’t want to leave until their job was complete. That says a lot about the day and our students.”

Sponsors of the event included a dozen businesses that provided paint, building supplies, coffee and donuts for the volunteers.

More information:

Maureen Zegel

Maureen Zegel

Eye on UMSL: Tending the gardens

Biology student James Ott and Sustainable Energy & Environmental Coordinator Katy Mike Smaistrla pull weeds last week in the native gardens north of the Recreation Wellness Center.