BYU’s Y-Serve united community members, young and old, through various service projects celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Jan. 15.
Community Outreach Program Director Emily Magleby said Y-Serve hoped to provide a meaningful experience to all participants, as well as instill a tradition of service on this national holiday.
Community Outreach Program’s theme for this year is a Martin Luther King Jr. quote: “Everybody can be great, because anyone can serve.”
“When you take free time to give back, there is happiness and joy that comes into your life,” Magleby said. “This project is exciting because it is in honor of Martin Luther King who served his life away trying to help others and recognizing that people have difficulties and are struggling, and he tried to change that; it’s a good thing to honor that.”
The Community Outreach event began with all 1300 expected volunteers filing through registration starting at 8 a.m. Participants signed up for one of 20 service projects hosted within the Wilkinson Student Center and across Provo City. Volunteers were welcomed to the WSC ballroom after registration in preparation for the event’s program.
The Debra Bonner Gospel Unity Choir kicked off the day with a 10-minute performance. The choir filled the room with dancing, clapping and ear-to-ear smiling.
The choir was followed by Professor Ryan Gabriel of the BYU Sociology Department, who gave an inspiring message on Martin Luther King Jr., service and each participant’s role as a disciple of Christ. He ended with a powerful echoing of the theme where he said “Everybody can be great because,” and the crowd shouted back “Anyone can serve.”
Y-Serve Director Chris Crippen then gave a few remarks and the Debra Bonner Gospel Unity Choir was brought back for another 10 minutes of cheer-filled singing.
All volunteers were prompted to find their desired service project and began their afternoon service following the program. Projects on campus included making quilts for refugees, coloring interactive children pictures for educational kits, sanding and staining toys cars, and many more. Some projects took place off campus and included community cleaning, organizing Habitat for Humanity’s Orem store, and the American Cross Blood drive.
Two BYU freshmen, Mckay Sperry and Aaron Woodbury, enjoyed themselves on campus by writing letters to veterans, starting many pages with the greeting, “Dear Hero.” Both students expressed interest in returning to the event in coming years, especially thanks to the fun performance by the gospel choir.
Many program directors, including Sam Halterman, said this program has become a tradition in their lives.
“I remember, even three years ago now, that it was a fun time. I felt fulfilled,” Halterman said. “It was cool to do something productive with a day off school, instead of just sleeping all day.”
Community Outreach Director Josh Gandy, said an estimated 2000 hours of service are given in the few afternoon hours of the event. He also said he believes the program will continue to grow, getting bigger each year.
After his initial involvement Gandy said he, “felt on top of the world.” This prompted him to stay involved and provide this experience for others. Gandy said he continues supporting the program because he feels the Community Outreach Program is reaching out and uniting the community, just like Martin Luther King reached out to unite this nation.