University of South Alabama, Office of Public Relations
 
December 15 , 2008
Contact: Joy Crawford-Washington , Office of Public Relations, (251) 460-6211
            
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USA Preparing to Celebrate the Life and Legacy of
Dr. King with Service and Outreach
Volunteers Needed to Support the Mission
 

           University of South Alabama students are inviting faculty, staff, alumni and the local community to participate in their first Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service to be held in the Crichton community of Mobile. The theme for the MLK Day of Service is “Make it a Day On... Not a Day Off!”

            The MLK Day of Service event will be held on Monday, January 19, 2009 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., located at the Sybil H. Smith Family Village at 111 Mobile Street.       At the 10 a.m. registration, tee-shirts will be given to the volunteers who will assist with various projects. Lunch will be served at 1 p.m. for the volunteers.

            This project will serve as the kick-off event for the University of South Alabama’s new Center for Academic Service-Learning and Civic Engagement which is co-directed by Dawn McKinney, senior instructor in the School of Computer and Information Sciences, CIS, and Karen Peterson, instructor in English, at USA.   

            USA joins universities around the world in supporting the community by participating in academic service-learning. Service-learning is a philosophy, pedagogy, and model for community development that is used as an instructional strategy to meet learning goals and/or content standards.

            Through service-learning, students grow to become civic-minded citizens while participating in deeper active and authentic learning experiences which support specific objectives in academic courses. Many of the USA faculty members and students have been participating in service-learning.  The goal of the center is to bring service-learning into the light and to provide training and support.

            “We want our students to understand that they can impact their community through service,” Peterson said. “I’m so proud that these students have organized this event to collaborate with faculty and the community in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”
                       
            The slogan for the new service-learning center at the University, “Taking Academics Beyond the Classroom,” was created by Stephen Purnell, a student in the CIS Freshman Seminar class. This service-learning initiative has been developed and planned by the USA students in the freshman seminar class.

            Among the projects included for the USA MLK Day of Service are: health screenings; arts and crafts and various sports clinics; and yard clean-up at Dumas Wesley Community Center; painting and a computer workshop at Sybil Smith Family Village; preparing meals at the Waterfront Rescue Mission; cleanup at USA Children’s and Women’s Sculpture Park; clothes sorting at the Penelope House Clothes Closet; volunteer work at Little Sisters of the Poor; building a wheel chair ramp in the Crichton Community; and health and prevention screenings at Central Plaza Towers.

            Jeremy Johnson, a CIS student, is a student leader in organizing the computer workshop.

            “We are excited to provide computer training for the women and their children at Sybil Smith, in memory of Dr. King,” Johnson noted. “I’m confident that our service to the community will make a difference. My hope is that we will also be better for taking the time to help others.”

            Johnson said the students on his team will teach the women at Sybil Smith about resume building, job searching, basic computer skills, and will educate their kids about Internet safety. Other student-led teams will mentor children, as well as paint, provide health screenings and build a wheel chair ramp. The USA African-American Student Association Choir will perform, and other entertainment and activities will be held during that day.

            Sponsors for the USA MLK Day of Service are: Target, The Coca Cola Corporation, USA Student Government Association, USA Jaguar Productions, USA Dining Services and Spring Hill Avenue United Methodist Church.

             “I think this is a big way for us to make a difference in our community,” McKinney said. “We are also inviting the people in the Crichton community to come out and work side-by-side with our students.”         

            To volunteer for the University of South Alabama MLK Day of Service project, visit www.mlkday.org. Click on “how to serve,” and then click again on “Alabama,” or e-mail kpeterson@usouthal.edu.


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