Kamari Clark (left), 11, works on an art project with Inessa Lokshin, a senior majoring in psychology and member of Alpha Xi Delta at UMSL. Kamari attends after-school programs at Girls Inc. St. Louis. Hundreds of UMSL student volunteers participated in Day of Service programs throughout the St. Louis area Monday in observance of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. (Photo by Maureen Zegel)

Inessa Lokshin was taken by the 10- and 11-year-old girls seated at a table at Girls Inc. St. Louis. So much so that she wondered how she could return.

“Maybe I could volunteer this summer,” said the senior majoring in psychology at the University of Missouri—St. Louis. “This is the first year I’ve volunteered and I’m so impressed with the girls and this organization. This place is a miniature reflection of the values of our sorority.”

Lokshin and about a dozen of her sorority sisters from Alpha Xi Delta were among more than 230 people who gathered at UMSL early Monday morning to participate in the annual Day of Service for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Observance. They received breakfast, a pep talk and their assignments to a dozen organizations in need of painting, cleaning, building and other services.

Lokshin and the Alpha Xi Delta women were assigned to Girls Inc. St. Louis, which serves approximately 120 girls from underserved areas in after school and summer programs.

In the past, UMSL students have volunteered to paint and decorate the old school building tucked into a Normandy, Mo., neighborhood. But Monday they got to meet and play with some of the girls who make up Girls Inc.

Lokshin sat in the cafeteria with Kamari Clark, 11; Nyla Archie, 10; Denise Owen, 10 and Autumn Blue, 10. Her sorority sisters each supervised a table of four to six girls. They all worked on an art project that reflected King’s dream of unity.

Around the region, groups of UMSL volunteers heeded the MLK Day rally cry: “Make it a day on, not a day off.” They worked in the community, cleaning and painting the KornerStone Kids Preschool in Normandy, gave a presentation at the City of St. Louis Juvenile Detention Center, worked on a farm recovery project in Ferguson, Mo., and numerous other projects.

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.