BYU Student’s Community Outreach Day activity honors Martin Luther King’s legacy through service

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BYU students and community members gathered for a morning of inspiring messages, singing and service organized by the BYU Y-Serve Office and the Sorensen Center for Moral and Ethical Leadership on Jan. 16.

“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve,” Martin Luther King Jr. once said in a sermon.

Participants signed up for one of the 17 available service opportunities, received refreshments provided by the Sorensen Center and attended the devotional portion where Unity Gospel Choir began and speakers Debra and Harry Bonner followed.

Debra Bonner addressed volunteers on using the Light of Christ to find joy and serve others. Debra Bonner was one of the keynote speakers in the devotional portion of the event. (Jared Cordova)

Debra Bonner spoke on including Christ in their lives to expel hate and replace it with service. “Get to know Him personally, listen and he’ll talk to you when you have problems,” Bonner said. “I will love Him and I will serve Him because of what He did for me.”

Following Debra Bonner’s remarks, Harry Bonner invited the audience to listen to the Lord when he calls. Martin Luther King Jr. was a third-generation preacher and he answered the call on Christlike living, Bonner said.

“When he was ready to take his place in his dad’s church as the primary pastor of that particular church … he got a higher calling to be a spokesperson for the civil rights movement,” Harry Bonner said.

He also said if one wants to become great in their organization, they need to learn to serve.

“If you want to be chief of all, you have to be a servant to all,” he said.

After the messages, volunteers headed to service projects facilitated through Y-Serve scattered on and off campus and had the opportunity to participate in a Q&A session with the Bonner family.

The Hollenbach family works on mats made from recycled plastic bags for refugees. Producing sleeping mats for “Stitching hearts worldwide” was one of the projects offered at the event. (Jared Cordova)

For many volunteers, they said this was their second or third visit, “We feel that it is important as a family to serve as much as we can, and with our busy lives, this is a wonderful opportunity to come down,” Dwayne Hollenbach, a community member from American Fork, said. “Service is making time to sacrifice your time for other people,” Benny Hollenbach said.

Volunteer Kaitlyn Call said she chose to serve because it was a good thing to do on a holiday. “I like service, and usually don’t have the time for it, so this was perfect.” Throughout the event, volunteers scanned QR codes to report their service hours.

“I know a lot of people see Monday as just a cool holiday, you know an extra day off, but to take just a little chunk of their day to get to learn about … who Martin Luther King Jr. is and how we can make an impact in this world … is so worth the time,” Leadership Programming Coordinator Hayley Aiono said.

Spencer Jackson, BYU student and current Executive Director for MLK Community Outreach Day, said he hopes that attendees will be exposed to the knowledge that these service projects don’t just stop on MLK day. “Y-Serve is open year-round. Anyone is welcome and encouraged to come here and inquire about what can be done,” Jackson said.

Martin Luther King Jr. Outreach Day happens each year and will continue in the coming years, Chris Crippen, Y-Serve Office Director, said. The Y-Serve office also offers “Stop-and-Serve,” an activity that allows students to come in and lend a helping hand for various service projects. Subscriptions to their weekly newsletter can be found on their website.

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