January 19th found the campus of the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) deserted... For the most part, at least. While many students took advantage of the holiday by sleeping in and having a lazy day, several hundred students, staff, and community members flocked to the campus’ Community Engagement Center for a day of community service and volunteering for Martin Luther King (MLK) Jr. Day. A day that the UNO Office of Civic and Social Responsibility (hosts of the Signature Service Days) cleverly coined “a day on, not a day off.”
MLK Jr. Signature Service Days welcomed over 300 students and 171 community volunteers, giving everyone a chance to serve over 25 participating organizations. Conservation Fusion was a proud contributor to this year’s Signature Service Days, hosting several service projects inside of UNO’s Community Engagement Center. In preparation for our upcoming Cold Weather Critters: Coloring for Conservation contest later this February, students created informational posters for each featured organization: Snow Leopard Trust, Red Panda Network, and Wildlife Conservation Society’s Tiger Project. Another group contributed by crafting paper snowflakes for our Cold Weather Critters display that will be featured in UNO’s Community Engagement Center. We also had another several student volunteers working on hand-made bracelets that will be gifted to the children of Madagascar.
Our biggest collaborative project, however, was the completion of a community art project for the people of Madagascar. The trunk of a large, quilt-like tree was crafted on a large white sheet out of scraps of brown fabric by three of our student volunteers while a separate volunteer group worked on tracing handprints and cutting them out of colorful fabric. While the trunk of the tree was assembled, we left our handprint “leaves” detached and plan to have community members in Madagascar come together to complete this collaborative art project later on this year.
Alex Bauer, Volunteer Connections Coordinator in UNO’s Office of Civil and Social Responsibility, shared with us that “Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated his life to his cause, so I see no better way to commemorate him than through service to others.” We couldn’t agree more and had the most amazing time contributing to Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy through Signature Service Days. It was a day dedicated to connecting with others and committing to service. For us and for the hundreds of volunteers participating, MLK Jr. Day was definitely not just a day off.