FU honors King legacy with service

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette Members of the Finlandia hockey team try their hand at logging at one of several volunteer sites.

HANCOCK — To honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, many universities and organizations use the holiday as a time for volunteer work.

At Finlandia University, that tradition continues to grow, with 160 students participating in Monday service projects.

This year all service sites were filled by student volunteers, leading organizer Rene Johnson to ask for more charities to reach out.

“I just invite people to contact me,” Johnson said. “This is just a win-win all the way around because for our students it is relationship building time with each other (and) also just exposure to the wider community.”

She sees the volunteer work as a chance for students to get out and interact with the community and experience the work that’s being done firsthand.

A few of this year’s projects include sorting donated food, reading at local schools and manual labor.

Clubs or athletic teams often volunteer as a group. Johnson even takes her entire servant leadership class to work at the Salvation Army to kick off the semester.

The Finlandia Hockey team is creating a tradition of volunteering to chop firewood for Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly. Dedicating two hours of hard manual labor, the logs will go to elderly people who use wood to heat their homes but can no longer chop it themselves or buy it.

“It’s a point of pride for them. They’re kind of building a tradition with Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly. I think this is going to become their site,” said university President Philip Johnson, who was also working at the site.

Some team members carried wood to a mechanical splitter, while others tried their hand at using an ax.

“That’s my number one concern today, that we get out of here blood free,” Johnson said, although the site has a “100 percent safety rating” from previous years.

“We so enjoy being out here, and this is a great bunch of students,” Johnson said.

For any students who missed the signup window, more opportunities were available on campus.

Students could watch a film about the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. or participate in on-campus work projects with staff.